by WorldTribune Staff, November 15, 2017
Chinese President Xi Jinping this week plans to dispatch an envoy to North Korea amid frayed relations between the communist allies.
Song Tao, the head of the international department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), will visit Pyongyang on Nov. 17, one week after Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump held a summit in Beijing.
Xi has yet to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. In contrast, the Chinese president had met five times with former South Korean President Park Geun-Hye since the death of Kim Jong-Il, the father of Jong-Un, in late December 2011.
Song’s visit would mark the first trip to the North by a high-level Chinese official since October 2016 when Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin visited Pyongyang, Yonhap reported.
Reports say that Song may meet with Kim Jong-Un, who sent a congratulatory message last month to Xi for being re-elected as the head of the CPC and expressed hope for better ties.
State media reported that Song will inform North Korea of the results of China’s recent party congress, in which Xi cemented his power as he entered his second five-year term.
“China and North Korea will exchange opinions about issues of mutual concern including party-to-party matters and bilateral ties, along with the party congress,” Geng Shuang, spokesman at China’s foreign ministry, said in a briefing.
The Kim Jong-Un regime has not carried out any major provocations since Sept. 15, raising hopes that the U.S. could seek direct talks with Pyongyang.
Joseph Yun, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, reportedly said at a recent meeting that if North Korea halted nuclear and missile testing for about 60 days, that would be the signal Washington needs to resume direct dialogue with Pyongyang.
On Nov. 14, Yun told reporters in Seoul that he does not know why the North has halted its provocations as Pyongyang has not communicated with the U.S. in that regard, but he urged the North to stay provocation-free “for a period of time,” adding that it would be a “good start.”