Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Photo: Reuters

Despite icy relations of late, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has added his name to the list of leaders who have congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on his second five-year term as the head of China’s communist party, according to North Korea’s KCNA news agency.

But no mention of Kim’s formal slap on the back was made in Chinese state media. Xi was cemented into his top post at the pivotal 19th Communist Party Congress that ended in Beijing on October 24.

Xi, at the same time, expressed his hope for “development” in China-North Korea relations in his response to Kim’s congratulatory message, according to KCNA.

“I wish that under the new situation, the Chinese side would make efforts with the [North Korean] side to promote relations between the two parties and the two countries to sustainable soundness and stable development and thus make a positive contribution to… defending regional peace and stability and common prosperity,” Xi wrote back, KCNA said.

In another tepid signal, Xi thanked Kim for his congratulations and referred him as “comrade.” But a story by South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo noted that the word “friendship” was conspicuously absent.