• Reuters

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North Korea sent a congratulatory message to China’s Communist Party congress on Wednesday amid increasingly frayed relationships between the traditional allies as China tightens sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

The Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea said China has made “great progress in accomplishing the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics” under the guidance of the Communist Party.

“We are greatly pleased over this,” the committee said in the message, carried by the official KCNA news agency, adding that it “sincerely wished” the congress “satisfactory success.”

Officials and experts in South Korea had worried that Pyongyang might conduct a weapons test to coincide with the opening of the congress.

While the United States and its allies, and many Chinese, believe Beijing should do more to rein in Pyongyang, the acceleration of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities has coincided with a near-total breakdown of high-level diplomacy between the two.

China, which is Pyongyang’s sole major ally and accounts for more than 90 percent of trade with the isolated country, has said it will strictly enforce U.N. Security Council sanctions banning imports of coal, textiles and seafood, and will cut off oil shipments.

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