Asia

China says it wants to maintain friendly North Korea ties

China says it remains committed to maintaining friendly ties with North Korea, amid signs of deteriorating relations between the longtime allies over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang made the remarks during a regular briefing Thursday in response to a question about a North Korean state media commentary that carried a rare, direct criticism of China.

He said Beijing's position on "developing good neighborly and friendly cooperation with North Korea is also consistent and clear."

The commentary released Wednesday by the state-run Korean Central News Agency said that "a string of absurd and reckless remarks" from China are testing the North's patience and could trigger unspecified "grave" consequences.