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Top N. Korean official in Beijing in bid to normalize ties

All News 16:08 June 01, 2016

By Kim Deok-hyun

BEIJING, June 1 (Yonhap) -- A top North Korean official, career diplomat Ri Su-yong, spent a second day in Beijing on Wednesday in an apparent bid to normalize political ties that remain soured over the North's nuclear weapons ambitions.

A vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party's central committee and the party's chief of international relations, Ri arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a three-day visit.

He held talks with Song Tao, minister of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party, on Tuesday evening and both sides voiced hope to boost cooperation.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were no reports from Chinese state-controlled media that Ri met with other senior Chinese officials.

In a brief statement on the Tuesday talks, the Chinese Communist Party stopped short of saying that Ri and Song discussed North Korea's nuclear program.

However, North Korea's official media reported on Wednesday that Ri told Song that the North will not give up its policy of simultaneously pursuing both economic development and nuclear development.

The remarks by Ri about North Korea's nuclear policy indicated that Pyongyang and Beijing are still far apart over how to deal with the North's nuclear program, a diplomatic source in Beijing said on the condition of anonymity.

"The Chinese side wants to manage North Korea, and North Korea wants to escape from the current diplomatic isolation," the source said.

"But it will be difficult for North Korea and China to improve ties unless the North changes its course on its nuclear program," the source said.

North Korea was hit by tougher U.N. sanctions in March following its fourth nuclear test in January and launch of a long-range rocket in February.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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