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Ranking N. Korean visits Beijing amid tension over artillery attack on S. Korea

All Headlines 11:48 November 30, 2010

BEIJING, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- A high-ranking North Korean official landed in China on Tuesday amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the North's artillery attack on the South.

Choe Thae-bok, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, is scheduled to make a five-day visit to China, Beijing's official Xinhua News Agency had said on Sunday.

According to the Chinese-language report, the visit is in response to an invitation from Wu Bangguo, China's top legislator and the country's second-ranking official.

The visit comes a week after North Korea's deadly shelling on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island near the inter-Korean border. The attack killed two marines and as many civilians, drawing international condemnation and angering South Koreans, who came under the communist neighbor's first attack targeting civilians since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Choe would not answer the barrage of questions by reporters at Beijing's international airport.

Defying North Korea's threats, South Korea and the United States are conducting large-scale naval drills off the Korean Peninsula's west coast with the aircraft carrier the USS George Washington in a potent show of force against the North.

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