BEIJING - China's most senior diplomat has vowed to deepen ties with North Korea and praised its young leader Kim Jong-un, despite an international outcry over Pyongyang's recent rocket launch and the possibility of a third nuclear test by the isolated state.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who steers Chinese diplomacy and outranks the foreign minister, made the show of friendship in a meeting with Kim Yong-il, the Korean Workers' Party director of international affairs, according to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry late on Sunday.

Dai's published remarks did not mention North Korea's failed rocket launch on April 13, which Pyongyang said aimed to put a weather satellite into orbit.

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