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North Korea foreign minister visits Beijing to meet counterpart

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Ri Yong-ho, Minister for Foreign Affairs for North Korea, addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York . Photo: AFP

North Korea’s foreign minister arrived in Beijing Tuesday for talks with his counterpart, just a week after Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un made a groundbreaking trip to the Chinese capital.

The visit by Ri Yong Ho was announced by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, who said Ri would meet Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Geng did not indicate likely topics for the talks but indicated that the visit would be short.

Kim last week met President Xi Jinping on his first trip abroad since inheriting power from his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011.

Kim is due to hold a summit with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on April 27 and a landmark meeting with US President Donald Trump is also planned — events that give both Pyongyang and Beijing new incentives to repair their strained relationship.

China is the North’s only significant ally and trade partner, but ties have cooled since it began enforcing UN sanctions aimed at curbing its neighbour’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The diplomatic thaw involving the North and its neighbours began during the Winter Olympics in South Korea, to which Kim sent athletes, cheerleaders and his sister as an envoy.

Ri will head to Russia, Azerbaijan and other former Soviet republics in coming days, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported, citing a diplomatic source.


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