BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese President Xi Jinping told his South Korean counterpart on Wednesday that Beijing is willing to help reconciliation between South and North Korea, the foreign ministry said.

“China is willing to provide the necessary assistance to advance South-North reconciliation and cooperation,” Xi told President Park Geun-Hye in a phone call, according to a statement on the ministry website.

“The South and North are compatriots and South-North relations are important to the situation on the peninsula,” the newly elevated Chinese leader said.

China is Pyongyang’s sole major ally and by far its biggest trading partner and energy supplier. Park urged Xi to use Beijing’s leverage to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, her spokeswoman said.