North Korean diplomat in Beijing after coal ban

A Chinese magazine featuring the Feb 13 killing of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a newsagent in Beijing this week. The headline reads "Stranger-than-fiction assassination diary".
A Chinese magazine featuring the Feb 13 killing of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a newsagent in Beijing this week. The headline reads "Stranger-than-fiction assassination diary".PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • A senior North Korean diplomat arrived in Beijing yesterday for talks, China said, the first such high-level visit since June, after the Asian giant halted coal imports from its impoverished neighbour this month under UN sanctions.

China, North Korea's main diplomatic ally, said it would ban coal imports about a week after the isolated country tested an intermediate- range ballistic missile, for the first time since US President Donald Trump took office.

The North's Vice-Foreign Minister Ri Kil Song arrived in Beijing at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and will hold talks with his host, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

"This visit of the North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister is normal diplomatic contact and exchange between China and North Korea," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing.

Mr Ri's visit is set to run until Saturday, Mr Geng added.

NOT EXTRAORDINARY

This visit of the North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister is normal diplomatic contact and exchange between China and North Korea.

MR GENG SHUANG, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.

North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency confirmed the visit.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said it was aware Mr Ri would be travelling to China and declined to comment when asked if the visit might be related to the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother.

Before he was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb 13, Mr Kim had lived quietly in Macau, a Chinese territory, seemingly relaxed about his personal safety, sources close to him have said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2017, with the headline 'N. Korean diplomat in Beijing after coal ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe