(ATTN: UPDATES with background)
BEIJING, April 30 (Yonhap) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit North Korea this week ahead of a historic summit planned between the North and the United States, the Chinese foreign ministry said Monday.
His two-day trip from Wednesday comes at a critical time when efforts are being made toward denuclearizing the country.
"State Councilor Wang will visit North Korea at the invitation of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho," a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Last Friday, President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed on the North's complete denuclearization and their commitment to replace their armistice with a peace treaty. At the summit, Kim also agreed to dismantle the country's nuclear test site in May and invite South Korean and U.S. experts to observe it.
Possibly in May, Kim is also due to have a summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to negotiate denuclearization.
In Pyongyang, Wang is likely to be briefed on the results of the Moon-Kim summit and discuss strategies for the upcoming summit between Kim and Trump.
His visit may also involve discussion on Chinese President Xi Jinping's North Korea visit, which is reportedly to take place in early June, presumably following the North Korea-U.S. summit.
After years of unprecedented estrangement, Pyongyang and Beijing have been rapidly improving their bilateral relations as the North sets out to negotiate its nuclear weapons program with South Korea and the U.S.
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