Int'l community closely watching possible meeting between NK leader, Chinese envoy

11_17_THAAD

The trip comes about a week after US President Donald Trump held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Beijing as part of his 5-nation tour of Asia and said they agreed to "increase economic pressure until North Korea abandons its reckless and unsafe path".

The North's state-run daily Rodong Sinmun on Sunday reported on Chinese special envoy Song Tao's visit to the regime, including a banquet held for the envoy on Saturday.

Relations between the two communist neighbours, once said by late chairman Mao Zedong to be "as close as lips and teeth", are at their worst state in decades over North Korea's actions, and as Beijing faces pressure from United States President Donald Trump to pile pressure on Pyongyang.

The global community is closely monitoring the possible meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a special Chinese envoy, now in Pyongyang, diplomatic observers said Sunday.

Song arrived in Pyongyang on Friday to inform the North of the outcome of the Communist Party of China (CPC)'s recent party congress, in which Xi cemented his power as he entered his second five-year term.

"They said that the traditional friendship between China and North Korea was founded and cultivated by both countries former old leaders, and is valuable wealth for the two peoples", the department said.

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Song's visit to North Korea also comes as China and South Korea are repairing their relations that soured over Seoul's deployment of a USA anti-missile system.

It has close military and diplomatic ties to Russian Federation, and they have repeatedly called for a peaceful, negotiated solution to the North Korea nuclear and missile crisis. Mr Song heads the ruling Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) worldwide department.

A meeting between the two, if it occurs can allow the two sides to discuss the current security situations of the Korean Peninsula where tensions have reached a new high in the wake of Pyongyang's repeated provocations. Mr Trump, who warned Mr Xi during his trip to Beijing two weeks ago that time was "quickly running out" to solve the nuclear crisis, took to Twitter on Thursday to hail Mr Song's mission, saying: "A big move, we'll see what happens!"

On Friday, Song met with Choe Ryong-hae, a high-ranking North Korean official, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Details about his itinerary have not been unveiled, but diplomatic sources said that he may make a four-day visit to the North, during which he could meet with the North's leader. "The key to easing the situation on the peninsula lies in the hands of Washington and Pyongyang", the newspaper said in an editorial.

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