China to Send Senior Official to N.Korean Armistice Celebrations

      July 04, 2013 12:43

      China is to send a high-ranking government official to North Korea around the time of the 60th anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War on July 27, a diplomatic source in Beijing said Wednesday.

      Senior North Korean official Kim Song-nam went to China on Tuesday and met with officials from the Chinese Communist Party's International Department.

      The source senior said that North Korean military figure Choe Ryong-hae, who visited China at the end of May, asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to send a senior official to the anniversary and to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to China. There was apparently no commitment from Beijing to invite Kim, but the idea of sending a special envoy to the anniversary celebrations found more traction.

      "China could take advantage of the opportunity to deliver China's position that the North must denuclearize," the source speculated.

      The last senior Chinese official to visit North Korea was Li Jianguo, the vice chairman of the Communist Party's National People's Congress at the end of November last year.

      North Korea reportedly wants President Xi or an official of a similar high rank to come, but that is unlikely since it insists on pursuing the nuclear weapons program despite strong Chinese objections. Second-tier officials are a more likely choice, including Wang Jiarui, the director of the Communist Party's International Department, or Politburo members Fan Changlong and Xu Qiliang.

      Back in 1993, Hu Jintao, who was one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee at the time, attended the 40th anniversary of the armistice.

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