WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump praised China's decision to send a special envoy to its wayward ally North Korea days after he had pressed Beijing to do more to curb Pyongyang's nuclear threats.
"China is sending an Envoy and Delegation to North Korea - A big move, we'll see what happens!" he tweeted yesterday.
China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday announced President Xi Jinping's special envoy, Mr Song Tao, will travel to Pyongyang today to brief officials about last month's Chinese Communist Party congress and "other issues of mutual concern".
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not say whether the nuclear issue would be discussed but he said China was "committed to the denuclearisation of the peninsula".
North Korea's rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles has fuelled a surge in regional tension, and United Nations-led sanctions appear to have failed to bite deeply enough to change its behaviour.
Mr Trump had on Wednesday vowed a global campaign of "maximum pressure" on North Korea, warning that Pyongyang will not subject the world to "nuclear blackmail".
He said he had won a commitment from Mr Xi to use Beijing's economic leverage to denuclearise the Korean peninsula. It was not clear if that went beyond Chinese implementation of existing UN Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.
Mr Trump also suggested that Mr Xi had ditched a proposal to freeze US military manoeuvres in exchange for a freeze in North Korean nuclear proliferation.
However, China yesterday denied what would be a significant shift in Chinese policy, and said its "dual suspension" proposal to handle North Korea was still the best option.
China and Russia have proposed under the "dual suspension" that the United States and South Korea stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programmes.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS