World

Chinese diplomat to visit N. Korea as Xi's envoy

BEIJING: A senior Chinese diplomat will visit North Korea from tomorrow as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the government announced yesterday, amid continued tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that Mr Song Tao will "inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK" referring to the North's official name and the recently concluded Communist Party Congress in China.

North Korea's KCNA news agency confirmed the visit but said only that it would take place "soon".

It is not clear how long Mr Song could stay, but he has already visited Vietnam and Laos to inform them of the results of the congress, a courtesy China extends other communist countries after such important meetings.

Mr Song's department is in charge of the party's relations with foreign political parties, and it has traditionally served as a conduit for Chinese diplomacy with the North. Beijing's new special envoy for North Korea, Mr Kong Xuanyou, who took up his position in August, is not believed to have visited the country since he assumed the job. - WIRE SERVICES

North KoreaChinaXi Jinping