N Korean missile launch fails, Pyongyang official visits Beijing

Beijing, May 31 (IANS) A senior North Korean official arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks between his country and China, whose ties are formally close but have eroded recently because of the North’s nuclear weapons programme.

On Tuesday, North Korea tried unsuccessfully to fire an intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile, the fourth failed attempt in two months, according to the Yonhap news agency in South Korea.

The visiting official, Ri Su-yong, a former foreign minister who was recently promoted to the Politburo, came to discuss the recent Workers’ Party congress in Pyongyang, said a former senior Chinese official familiar with the visit as well as North Korea. The official declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

The Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that Ri arrived in Beijing on Tuesday morning and that his motorcade had made its way to the compound of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, in the city centre.

The North Korean official appeared most likely to meet with senior Chinese Communist Party officials, leaving open the question of whether President Xi Jinping, who also serves as secretary general of the party, would agree to see him. In keeping with normal party courtesy, Xi sent Kim a congratulatory note after the Workers’ Party congress.

But the former Chinese official said he thought it unlikely that Xi would meet with the North Korean visitor.

–IANS

ahm/vt

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