(Seoul) Chinese President Xi Jinping has told North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of his desire to take cooperation between the two countries to the “ next stage ”, Pyongyang state media said on Tuesday. .

This message of support comes as North Korea has increased its weapons tests in recent months, arousing the reprobation of the United States and its Japanese, South Korean and Western allies.

“The traditional friendship” between China and North Korea “has long stood the test of changes in the international situation,” Xi Jinping told Kim Jong-un in a message quoted by the North Korean state news agency. Korean KCNA.

“I will never stop working to take the friendship and cooperation between the two parties to the next level”, added the Chinese president, stressing that international relations in the world and in Asia “are changing seriously and in a complicated way”.

KCNA released the message shortly before a joint statement by G7 foreign ministers condemning North Korea’s weapons tests, and demanding that it refrain from any further nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches or risk being punished. a “rapid, united and robust international response”.

China is North Korea’s main ally and biggest economic backer. The relationship between the two countries was forged during the Korean War (1950-1953) when Mao Tse-Tung sent millions of “volunteers” to fight the United Nations forces led by the United States.

In 1961, Beijing and Pyongyang signed a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance in the event of an armed attack. Mao then described the allies as being as close as “lips and teeth”.

These relations have sometimes cooled due to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, but the growing rivalry between China and the United States in recent years has helped to warm them again.

China and Russia thus vetoed a UN Security Council resolution in May 2022 imposing new sanctions against Pyongyang for its repeated ballistic missile launches.