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China likely to send high-ranking official to N. Korea on anniversary

All News 18:35 June 13, 2016

By Kim Deok-hyun

BEIJING, June 13 (Yonhap) -- China is likely to send a delegation led by a high-ranking official to North Korea next month when the two traditional allies mark the 55th anniversary of signing a military treaty, a diplomatic source said Monday.

North Korea and China, which fought against South Korea, the United States and 20 other allied countries during the 1950-53 Korean War, signed the pact on July 11, 1961.

"To mark the 55th anniversary, a high-ranking Chinese official is expected to visit North Korea," the source said on the condition of anonymity.

"There is a possibility that North Korea and China began behind-the-scenes discussions about a visit by a high-ranking official (to North Korea)," the source said.

Pyongyang is also expected to send one of its top officials to Beijing on the anniversary, according to the source.

When North Korea and China marked the 50th anniversary of signing the treaty in 2011, China sent then-vice premier Zhang Dejiang, who now ranks fifth in China's ruling Communist Party hierarchy, to Pyongyang.

In return, North Korea sent Yang Hyong-sop, vice chairman of the North's Supreme People's Committee, to Beijing.

Political ties between North Korea and China remain frayed over the North's nuclear weapons ambition, but there were signs that the allies are trying to mend fences.

In an apparent bid to improve ties, Chinese President Xi Jinping met a high-ranking North Korean official, Ri Su-yong, on June 1 in Beijing.

While chiding North Korea over its nuclear program, China's Communist Party has been trying to preserve its traditional friendship with the isolated ally, which is viewed by Beijing as a strategic buffer against American influence.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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