Xi's Special Envoy to Visit N.Korea

Tensions over North Korea's rogue nuclear programme have roiled relations between allies Beijing and Pyongyang as China backed UN sanctions on the North

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North Korea on Wednesday called a speech by US President Donald Trump at the South Korean Parliament an "open declaration of war".

Song Tao, the head of China's ruling Communist Party's worldwide department, will travel to Pyongyang on Friday to report on the party's national congress held last month, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Rodong Sinmun is the official newspaper of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, and the commentary was also published by state news agency KCNA.

The meeting between Abe and Harris in Tokyo comes a week after the US President Donald Trump's visit to Japan, as part of his Asia tour, during which he had urged Abe to jointly apply maximum possible pressure on Pyongyang to force it to abandon its weapons programmes.

China is sending a special envoy to North Korea later this week, according to the state-run media.

While Trump's rhetoric in Seoul was praised by some observers for avoiding the type of "fire and fury" language he has used in the past, North Korea watchers have warned that direct criticism of the Kim dynasty - which has ruled North Korea since its founding - and the country's political system, is far more likely to rile Pyongyang.

China meanwhile, has proposed that to start peace negotiations, North Korea could stop its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for the USA and South Korea stopping regular military drills in the region.

It is the first time in about two years that a Chinese special envoy has visited Pyongyang. Song has visited Vietnam and Laos, both fellow Communist states, on the same mission following the congress.

Donald Trump on Wednesday said China backed him on North Korea.

While Delury said he saw Song's visit as a likely sign of improving ties between the two countries, Zhao was less sure, adding it could just be the North Koreans attempting to fend off stiffer sanctions. "But past American presidents have pushed China on North Korea before, and China's never come around".

Geng said at a regular briefing that China's position has not changed.

China is the linchpin of any such effort, and in Beijing Trump said it can fix the North Korea problem "easily and quickly".

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not say whether the nuclear issue would be discussed but he said China was "committed to the denuclearization of the peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability of the peninsula, and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation".

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