April 17, 2017 12:44
Beijing and Pyongyang are in secret talks about the North's nuclear weapons program, reports said last week.
NBC on Thursday quoted a U.S. government source as saying that China sent its "top nuclear negotiators" to Pyongyang to "communicate the gravity of the situation to the North."
Taiwan's Central News Agency on Sunday quoted Hong Kong military analyst Liang Guoliang as saying China is trying to resolve the North Korean nuclear impasse through diplomatic channels with the North. He said North Korea demanded a three-year deadline to scrap its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic assistance and security guarantees from China.
But the reports were not officially confirmed, and a diplomatic source in Beijing said, "We're trying to verify the reports, but they don't seem to fit with the current atmosphere between China and North Korea."
Beijing seems to be getting tougher on North Korea. Chinese media reported that major travel agencies have stopped selling package tours to North Korea, and a search on Ctrip, the largest online travel agency in China, confirms that.
Tourism revenues from Chinese visitors have been a vital source of hard currency for the impoverished North. Ctrip sold four-day trips to the North until Saturday but now a message comes up saying they are unavailable.
Other major Chinese online travel agencies also scrapped North Korea tours. One travel agency staffer said, "It seems the order was given to show that China is raising the pressure on North Korea."
Earlier, state-run broadcaster CCTV reported that Air China stops flights from Beijing to Pyongyang on Monday.
Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat, spoke on the telephone with U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson on Sunday to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
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