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North Korea sends top military official to China

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 14:33

Zee Media Bureau

Beijing: In what is seen as an attempt to straighten the relations with China,

North Korean President Kim Jong-un has sent a high-ranking military official as special envoy to Beijing on Wednesday.

Choe Ryong-hae, a vice marshal in North Korean Army, is accompanied by a political and military delegation on his visit to Beijing

The visit comes after the relations between the two countries have hit a low after China backing the UN sanctions on Pyongyang. China is visibly irked by Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions after its Feb 12 nuclear test.

Reacting to North Korea’s aggressive rhetoric, China has also suspended all financial transactions between Bank of China and the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea.

Choe`s trip is believed to be the first top-level meeting between North Korean and China since Chinese Politburo member Li Jianguo went to Pyongyang in late November bearing a letter from Xi Jinping, who had just been installed as China`s party chief.

The visit precedes discussions about a trip by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to China next month.

Meanwhile, Chinese fishermen said gunmen in North Korean military uniforms held a crew captive at gunpoint for two weeks before finally releasing the boat this week. The ship`s owner said the captain was beaten and the vessel`s fuel stolen.

Choe and his delegation may be ask for more economic aid from Beijing and to explain North Korea`s recent military moves, including short-range projectile launches off the east coast, said Lee Ji-sue, a North Korea specialist and professor at Myongji University in Seoul, South Korea.

Leader Kim Jong Un hasn`t visited Beijing since he took power from his father, Kim Jong Il, who visited China in August 2011 just months before his death that December.

China is North Korea`s top trade partner.

With Agency Inputs

First Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 11:06
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