Beijing, (AFP/APP): A top Chinese envoy landed in North Korea on Friday in a trip hailed as a “big move” by US President Donald Trump, who has urged Beijing to pile pressure on its nuclear-armed ally. Diplomat Song Tao is visiting the North on behalf of President Xi Jinping to brief officials on the recent Chinese Communist Party congress and other “issues of mutual interest”, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
He is the first major Chinese envoy to visit Pyongyang in more than a year with ties severely strained between the two countries. Analysts expect Song to address the nuclear standoff, which has roiled relations between the two Cold War-era allies as China has backed United Nations sanctions on North Korea over its missile tests and sixth nuclear blast. Trump, who warned Xi during his trip to Beijing last week that time was “quickly running out” to solve the nuclear crisis, took to Twitter on Thursday to hail the mission as “a big move, we’ll see what happens!”.
A brief report from North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency Saturday morning confirmed Song had landed and met with Choe Ryong-Hae, a senior Pyongyang official and a close aide of leader Kim Jong-Un. The report said Song told his hosts China wanted to “develop the traditional friendly relations between the two parties and countries” but contained no further details of what was discussed. Washington wants China, which accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade, to put more economic pressure on the reclusive regime.