BEIJING — China hopes that this week's visit by a senior North Korean envoy can ease tension in the region and help spur efforts to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday.
Choe Ryong Hae, a special envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, met Chinese officials in the highest-ranking visit by an official from Pyongyang in about six months.
"We hope that this visit can ameliorate the present tension on the Korean peninsula and give new impetus to pushing for the denuclearization of the peninsula," ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing.
On Friday, Choe met General Fan Chonglong, vice chairman of China's powerful Central Military Commission, who warned Choe about tension on the peninsula threatening peace.
"In recent years, the state of affairs around the Korean peninsula nuclear issue frequently turns into one escalation of tensions after another," China's Xinhua state news agency cited Fan as saying.
"The conflicting strategies of all parties have intensified, jeopardizing peace," Fan said.
Choe responded by saying peace could not be assured although North Korea wanted it in order to build the country, and it was willing to work with all sides in solving problems.
"The situation on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia is complex and extraordinary, and there is no guarantee of peace," Xinhua cited Choe as saying.
"The North Korean people need a peaceful and stable environment to build their country," Choe was quoted as saying. "The North Korean side wishes to work together with all parties and, through dialog, seek a means to resolve the problem."
On Thursday, Choe told another senior Chinese official that North Korea was willing to return to talks, although the prospect for those in the near future is dim.
Tension has been mounting between North Korea and China even though China is the North's most important economic and political backer.
Ties have been hurt between the two supposed allies by the North's third nuclear test in February, despite China's disapproval, and by China agreeing to U.N. sanctions on the North in response and starting to put a squeeze on North Korean banks.
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