China's Xi, in message to N.Korea's Kim, vows cooperation under 'new situation' -KCNA

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SEOUL (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the significance of cooperation between the two countries, North Korea's state media KCNA reported on Saturday.

In a message to Kim, Xi said China is ready to work, together with the Korean side, to steadily develop the China-DPRK relations of friendship and cooperation ... "under a new situation", KCNA said.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is North Korea's official name.

KCNA did not further elaborate on the nature of "a new situation."

Xi made the remarks in response to Kim's congratulatory message for the Beijing Winter Olympics Games and a verbal message of congratulation soon after the successful closing of the games, according to KCNA.

Earlier this week, Kim, in a verbal message to Xi, vowed to strengthen cooperation with China and together "frustrate" threats and hostile policies from the United States and its allies.

North Korea did not participate in the Games, which ended on Sunday. In a previous letter from sports authorities in January, North Korea blamed "hostile forces" and COVID-19 risks for not being able to attend.

North Korean athletes were not eligible to compete under their national flag after the country failed to send a team to the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year, citing COVID-19 concerns. China has been North Korea's only major ally since the two signed a treaty in 1961.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Sandra Maler)