China says it wants 'friendly' relations with North Korea

China says it wants 'friendly' relations with North Korea
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China sought to calm tensions with North Korea on Thursday, saying that it wants to maintain friendly relations with Pyongyang. 

"China's position on developing friendly, good-neighborly relations with North Korea is also consistent and clear," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters, according to Reuters.

China has faced mounting pressure from the U.S. in recent weeks to rein in North Korea's advancing weapons programs. The Trump administration has said repeatedly that a military option for dealing with the North remains on the table, but has remained firm in its calls to China to put pressure on the isolated country.

While Geng reaffirmed China's alliance with North Korea, he also said China was committed to ending the country's nuclear program through diplomacy. 

North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency published a commentary slamming two Chinese state-run newspapers, the People's Daily and Global Times, for attempting to undermine the relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang and for blaming North Korea for increased tensions in the region.

The U.S. has sent a Navy strike group into the Sea of Japan near the Korean Peninsula in an attempt to deter the North from conducting further nuclear or missile tests.

Pyongyang has condemned that move as an act of aggression and has threatened a nuclear strike if provoked.