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(LEAD) Chinese president's special envoy to visit N. Korea this week

2017/11/15 14:09

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(ATTN: REWRITES lead; UPDATES with more info, background throughout)

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping will send his special envoy to North Korea this week, the countries' state media reported Wednesday, amid strained ties over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Song Tao, the head of the international department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, will leave for North Korea on Friday, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

"Song will inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK," it said, referring to the abbreviation of North Korea's full name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

North Korea's state news agency said in a short dispatch that Song will visit the North "soon," without revealing details.

China wrapped up its weeklong 19th party congress last month, in which Xi cemented his power as he entered his second five-year term.

The trip comes as U.S. President Donald Trump finished his 12-day tour of Asia, which included stops in South Korea and China. Trump has said that China should do more to rein in its wayward neighbor.

North Korea's ties with China, its main ally and economic benefactor, have been frayed over Pyongyang's persistent advancement of its nuclear and missile programs. China has implemented U.N. sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests.

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