China and North Korea agreed Monday to deepen their friendship and promote the steady development of bilateral ties, with Beijing seeking political settlement of issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang's ballistic missile launches.

China's top diplomat Wang Yi and Pak Myong Ho, vice foreign minister of North Korea, shared the view that the two Asian neighbors should promote cooperation in various fields as they mark in 2024 the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

China's top diplomat Wang Yi (front R) meets with Pak Myong Ho, vice foreign minister of North Korea, in Beijing on Dec. 18, 2023. (Screenshot from the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website)(Kyodo)

North Korea fired what is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile-class projectile toward the Sea of Japan, the Japanese government said Monday, just hours after another missile was launched in the same direction. Tokyo said the latest missile has the potential to strike anywhere in the continental United States.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference Monday that solving Korean Peninsula issues through military deterrence "will not work, and will only do the opposite and make the issues and tensions worse."

His remarks were viewed as a cautionary message amid efforts by the United States, South Korea and Japan to deepen their security cooperation.

"Dialogue and consultation is the fundamental way" to tackle Korean Peninsula issues," Wang said, calling on relevant parties to squarely face their root causes and "take concrete steps to advance their political settlement."

China is North Korea's closest and most influential ally in economic terms. Last Friday, Pak met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong and discussed boosting bilateral strategic cooperation, according to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency.

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