China hails 'friendship' with N Korea, urges closer ties

China hails 'friendship' with N Korea, urges closer ties

China hails 'friendship' with N Korea, urges closer ties

Song Tao - the special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping - is in North Korea to share the outcome of the recent congress of the Communist Party of China, as well as discuss bilateral issues.

Trump fueled the speculation by tweeting Thursday, "China is sending an Envoy and Delegation to North Korea - A big move, we'll see what happens!"

Song's trip came amid strained relations between China and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

Relations between the two neighboring communist countries have shown signs of fraying in recent years as North Korea stepped up its missile and nuclear tests, and China supported US -led efforts to impose increasingly tougher sanctions against the North.

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It is not clear whether Song will meet North Korea's youthful leader Kim Jong Un.

But experts doubt Song's visit will yield major breakthroughs. In his discussions with North Korea's senior official Choe Ryong-hae, Song briefed him about the latest political change taking place in China where Xi has been re-elected as the chief of CPC's central committee.

Song has already visited Vietnam and Laos to inform them of the results of the congress, a typical courtesy China extends other communist countries after such important meetings.

The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released a statement on Saturday, 18 November, detailing Song's visit to Pyongyang.

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Song, who arrived in Pyongyang on Friday, met with North Korean official Choe Ryong-hae on the same day and senior party leader Ri Su-yong the following day.

"He stressed the CPC's stand to steadily develop the traditional friendly relations between the two parties and countries", the KCNA said. They exchanged views about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, and bilateral relations, the KCNA said.

The visit, whose length and content have not been specified in reports, is the first by a high-ranking Chinese official to North Korea in more than a year. Beijing is opposed to measures that could bring down Mr Kim's regime and lead to a refugee crisis along its border, and while enforcing harsh new United Nations sanctions targeting North Korea's sources of foreign currency it has called for steps to renew dialogue.

"Song is not a magician", the newspaper said.

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Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's special representative for Korean peace and security affairs, and his U.S. counterpart, Joseph Yun, met on the southern resort island of Jeju, following a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump in Seoul last week.

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