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Ranking N.K. diplomat in Beijing to meet top envoys of some countries: report

All News 20:32 January 12, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's top diplomat for Asian affairs arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a trip that is aimed at briefing the country's 2017 policies to top envoys of some countries, a Japanese media report said.

Choe Hui-chol, North Korea's vice foreign minister for Asian affairs, was seen at an airport in Beijing earlier in the day for a visit that is expected to last more than a week, according to Kyodo News.

Citing diplomatic sources, Kyodo reported that Choe is in Beijing to "brief on his government's policies for 2017 to ambassadors or senior diplomats of some countries."

His trip came as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's message that his country has entered the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The report said that Choe plans to discuss bilateral issues with foreign diplomats there, adding that his visit will likely run through at least Jan. 20, the inauguration date for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

"It is yet unknown whether Choe will hold talks with Chinese officials or his visit is directly linked with Trump's inauguration," the report added.

Many countries that have diplomatic ties with North Korea base diplomatic officials handling Pyongyang at their embassies in Beijing, termed nonresident embassies, it said.

North Korea is facing deepening diplomatic isolation as the United Nations Security Council slapped tougher sanctions on it twice last year in response to its two nuclear tests and missile launches.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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