International

North Korea Sends Special Envoy To China Amid Tensions

North Korea's Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae (front right) shakes hands with officials as he departs for China. i i

North Korea's Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae (front right) shakes hands with officials as he departs for China. Kim Kwang Hyon/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Kim Kwang Hyon/AP
North Korea's Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae (front right) shakes hands with officials as he departs for China.

North Korea's Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae (front right) shakes hands with officials as he departs for China.

Kim Kwang Hyon/AP

North Korea has sent a special envoy to China, hoping to patch up relations between the two countries that have been on rocky ground over Pyongyang's nuclear program and its recent seizure of a crew of Chinese fishermen.

North Korea's Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae, the head of the army's political bureau, is reportedly in Beijing.

As The Christian Science Monitor put it: "Neither side made any official comment on the subject of their discussions. But Beijing has made little secret of its growing frustrations at North Korea's recent behavior."

According to the Monitor:

"Top Chinese leaders have also issued unprecedented public warnings to the young North Korean leader, who has been in power for 18 months. Last month, at the height of Pyongyang's saber rattling, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared pointedly that 'no one should be allowed to throw a region, and even the whole world, into chaos for selfish gain.' "

Choe's trip, The New York Times reports, "is North Korea's first serious dabbling in diplomacy after months of bellicose pronouncements, including threats to launch nuclear strikes at the United States and its allies. It also comes as Japanese officials set off fears of a policy discord with allies by signaling a willingness to open a greater dialogue, including possible summit talks, with North Korea."

Choe is the first senior North Korean official to go to China since August, the newspaper says.

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