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China Congratulates North Korea on Country's 60-Year Anniversary


China has congratulated North Korea for what national media call its achievements, as North Korea celebrates 60 years since its founding. As Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing, China's praise follows Pyongyang's announcement that it had halted work to dismantle its nuclear reactor.

China's official Xinhua news agency quoted a message sent by President Hu Jintao, legislative leader Wu Bangguo, and Premier Wen Jiabao, as saying the founding of North Korea marked a new era where North Koreans became "masters of their own country."

The message said under North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and his late father, former leader Kim Il Sung, the country had made "remarkable achievements."

China's Foreign Ministry also quoted the country's fourth highest-ranked leader, Jia Qinglin, saying North Korea had made "obvious" achievements in what he called economic construction, social development, and external contacts.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, declined to elaborate on the details of those achievements.

She says China and North Korea are friendly neighbors and they always deal with their neighbors on principles of peaceful co-existence. She says they hope these friendly relations will continue.

Contrary to the praise from Chinese leaders, among the world's most impoverished countries, isolated North Korea has seen its economy shrink and it has become dependent on foreign donations of food and fuel.

In comparison, South Korea has the world's 13th largest economy and is a major food donor to the North.

North Korea's government keeps tight control on its people and stands accused of widespread human-rights abuses.

Pyongyang in 2006 tested a nuclear explosive in defiance of the international community. The United States, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea have promised the North millions of dollars in aid and diplomatic incentives to end its nuclear programs.

Progress had been made toward that end. But Washington says North Korea appears to be moving equipment back to its main nuclear reactor, which had been disabled, after its demand to be removed from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism was not met.

The United States says it will not remove Pyongyang from the terrorism list until it agrees on how its nuclear facilities can be verified.

Jiang says Chinese officials have been in close contact with all sides in the negotiation.

She says they hope that all the parties will stay in close contact and work together to meet each other half-way so as to solve the problem at an early date.

Korea was split after World War II ended and Japan lost control of the territory to the Soviets in the North and the United States in the South.

North Korea invaded the South in 1950. The U.S. backed South Korea and China supported the North in the fighting. The war technically has not ended because only an armistice, not a peace treaty, was signed.

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