China will send a special envoy to North Korea this week, the government said Wednesday, days after US President Donald Trump pressed Beijing to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear threats.
The last time China's special envoy for North Korea visited the country was in February a year ago.
Song Tao, the head of China's ruling Communist Party's global department, will travel to Pyongyang on Friday to report on the party's national congress held last month, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Song will be the first high-level Chinese official to visit North Korea this year.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the Second Plenum of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 8, 2017.
China's announcement comes ahead of Trump saying he has a "major announcement" to make on the results of his 12-day Asia tour, namely on North Korea and trade. China's support of new UN Security Council sanctions resolutions, the latest on September 11, following the North's sixth nuclear test earlier that month.
On Oct. 25, Kim Jong-un sent a message congratulating Xi on the success of China's party congress. Xi responded by calling for sound and stable ties between Beijing and Pyongyang.
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He said he would discuss the idea of giving Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic protection in a meeting with her husband this week. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held by Tehran since April 2016 after being accused of spying - charges she denies.
He will "inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK", Xinhua said on Wednesday, using the North's official name and referring to China's recently concluded Communist Party Congress at which Xi further cemented his power.
"The envoy's visit is to persuade North Korea, hoping that North Korea will return to the track of peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue", he said.
The two countries would also "exchange opinions on matters of mutual concern" during the visit, Geng added. Song, as president and party leader Xi Jinping's special envoy, will reportedly also carry out a "visit" in addition to delivering the briefing. Trump has said that China should do more to rein in its wayward neighbor.
"Before Trump's visit to China, there was a strong smell of gunpowder between the United States and North Korea", Wang said.
Some North Korea watchers suggest China, which while agreeing to sanctions has consistently stressed the need for engagement and dialogue, might be mulling the possibility of a summit with Kim, who has yet to travel overseas or meet a foreign head of state since assuming power in late 2011.
North Korea has time and again said it has no intention of backing away from its nuclear program.
"He should know that he is just a ugly criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people".