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N. Korea's top envoys to China, U.N. heading home: source

All Headlines 16:47 March 19, 2019

BEIJING, March 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's ambassadors to China and the United Nations returned to Pyongyang on Tuesday, a source said, spurring speculation that Pyongyang may be reviewing its strategy on the United States following the breakdown of last month's summit between the countries.

According to the source, North Korean Ambassador to China Ji Jae-ryong and Kim Song, Pyongyang's top envoy to the U.N., headed to Pyongyang on an Air Koryo flight from Beijing on Tuesday afternoon. About 10 North Korean diplomats, including the ambassadors, were seen at the airport.

It is unclear why the chiefs of the North's two most important overseas diplomatic missions were called in, but speculation is growing that their return might have something to do with the communist state's review of its America strategy after the Hanoi summit breakdown.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump met in Hanoi in late February for their second summit but failed to reach a nuclear deal as they were miles apart on how to match Pyongyang's denuclearization steps with sanctions relief from Washington.

Washington has been calling for tightened sanctions against Pyongyang ever since, demanding more tangible denuclearization steps.

On Friday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui threatened to end nuclear talks, saying Pyongyang would not give in to Washington's "gangster-like" demands.

In a letter recently sent to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Amb. Kim called for the lifting of sanctions, saying that North Korea could not hold a U.N. conference in September due to such restrictions.

Some speculate that the North Korean diplomats might be heading to Pyongyang in order to attend a meeting of foreign mission chiefs or take part in the first session of its newly elected parliament slated for April.

Kim Song, North Korea's new top envoy to the United Nations, is seen at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Sept. 20, 2018. (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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