August 30, 2019 / 8:33 AM / 23 days ago

Senior Chinese diplomat to visit North Korea next week

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) listens to Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar Kyaw Tint Swe (not pictured) at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China August 27, 2019. How Hwee Young/Pool via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, will visit North Korea next week, the foreign ministry said on Friday, at a time of international concern about a series of missile launches and tests by Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test of a “super-large multiple rocket launcher” on Saturday, the latest in a series of launches in recent weeks amid stalled denuclearisation talks.

China has encouraged the talks process, especially between North Korea and the United States, and President Xi Jinping visited Pyongyang in June.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that Wang’s visit, from Monday to Wednesday next week, would be “an important follow up step to advance our bilateral relationship”.

Wang will hold talks with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, among other activities, Geng added, without giving details.

“As you all see the situation on the peninsula is generally de-escalating,” Geng said. “China will continue to play our role for the denuclearisation of the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in northeast Asia.”

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Tom Hogue and Darren Schuettler

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