N Korean officials arrive in Beijing: Reports

Two top North Korean officials arrived in Beijing Tuesday amid sharp tensions on the Korean peninsula following the North`s artillery attack on the South, South Korean and Japanese media said.

Beijing: Two top North Korean officials
arrived in Beijing Tuesday amid sharp tensions on the Korean peninsula following the North`s artillery attack on the South,
South Korean and Japanese media said.

Kim Yong-Il, the head of the international department
of North Korea`s ruling Workers` Party, arrived in Beijing on
a flight from Pyongyang, Japan`s Kyodo news agency reported.

South Korea`s Yonhap news agency reported separately
that Choe Thae-Bok, chairman of North Korea`s Supreme People`s
Assembly and considered a close confidant of leader Kim
Jong-Il, also arrived for a visit.

China`s Xinhua news agency had said that Choe would be
visiting until December 4, but its state media had made no
previous mention of a visit by Kim, who is a top official in
charge of diplomatic matters.

China`s foreign ministry did not immediately respond
to a request for comment on the visits and there was no
mention in state media of the arrivals.

Tensions in the region have skyrocketed since North
Korea launched an artillery barrage on a South Korean border
island last week, killing two marines and two civilians and
setting homes ablaze.

China, as North Korea`s major ally, has come under
pressure to use its influence to rein in Pyongyang, but
Beijing has so far refused to publicly take sides.

On Sunday, it called for "emergency consultations" in
Beijing in December among the envoys to the six nations
involved in stalled talks on dismantling North Korea`s nuclear
weapons programme.
However, the United States, South Korea and Japan --
all parties to those talks -- have brushed aside the proposal.
The six-nation negotiations also include Russia, North Korea
and hosts China.

Japan`s foreign ministry also said it was sending its
top North Korea envoy to China today, where he will meet his
Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei.

Japan`s embassy in Beijing declined comment when
contacted by AFP.

Bureau Report

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