Trump says Chinese envoy to N. Korea 'a big move'

By AFP   November 17, 2017 | 09:08 am GMT+7

It is not clear whether the nuclear issue would be discussed.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday praised China's decision to send a special envoy to its wayward ally North Korea days after he had pressed Beijing to do more to curb Pyongyang's nuclear threats.

"China is sending an Envoy and Delegation to North Korea - A big move, we'll see what happens!" he tweeted.

China's foreign ministry on Wednesday announced President Xi Jinping's special envoy, Song Tao, will travel to Pyongyang this week to brief officials about last month's Chinese Communist Party congress and "other issues of mutual concern."

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."

Pressed for details Thursday, Geng re-affirmed the two nations' close ties in a statement that appeared to downplay the suggestion of a tough approach.

"China and DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) are close neighbors," he said.

"Developing friendly cooperation relations between the two countries serves the common interests of the two countries and is conducive to regional peace, stability and development," he added.

Trump has called on the region to take a united stance against the threat posed by isolated North Korea, which has sparked global alarm with its nuclear and missile tests in recent months.

China has backed a series of United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang and imposed banking restrictions on North Koreans, putting the Cold War-era allies at odds.

Song will be the first Chinese envoy to make an official trip to North Korea since October 2016, when vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin visited. Xi has never met Kim.

China's announcement came a day after Trump completed a five-nation tour of Asia which he has trumpeted as a major success.