Chinese president Xi Jinping met with a senior North Korean official late Wednesday, a day after Pyongyang's failed missile launch.

In the meeting with diplomat Ri Su Yong, Xi urged all sides to stay calm, exercise restraint and improve communication to safeguard regional peace, according to the official Xinhua news agency. 

The president said China is willing to work with Pyongyang to maintain and develop bilateral ties, Xinhua reported. Relations with Beijing, the isolated regime's only significant international ally, have cooled recently amid nuclear and missile tests in North Korea.

Reports made no mention of Ri's remarks and did not cite Xi as talking about the nuclear issue directly.

Ri is the first ranking official to visit China since North Korea's fourth nuclear test explosion in January. He was foreign minister until May, and was recently promoted to vice chairman of Pyongyang's ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

The rocket type fired on Tuesday was a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing the South Korean military. The missile may have exploded prematurely, it said.

The isolated Pyongyang regime suffered three failed Musudan launches in April, it said.

Rocket tests this year and a nuclear test explosion in January led to international condemnation and tightened sanctions, as well as the cooling of diplomatic and trade relations with Beijing.

"China cannot make a breakthrough in North Korea's nuclear issue, but it serves as a balancing actor in the game," China's state-run Global Times newspaper said in a commentary on Thursday.   

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