'China will work with North Korea to boost ties'

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The trip by the special envoy, Song Tao, to the North Korean capital came as President Donald Trump's administration pressed Xi to help restrain North Korea's nuclear and missile programs by exerting China's economic leverage over its impoverished neighbor.

This also gains additional significance since it is taking place amid high tensions in the region, mainly due to Pyongyang's relentless pursuit of its nuclear and missile programmes, defying United Nations regulations.

With Song scheduled to return to China on Monday, there's speculation that the meeting, should it take place, will be held Sunday.

Song Tao, who heads the ruling Chinese Communist Party's worldwide department, is visiting Pyongyang to discuss the outcome of the recently concluded Communist Party Congress in China, at which President Xi Jinping cemented his power.

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But some analysts and China's state media have been cautious about overly high expectations for Song's visit. "We do hope that special envoy will forward that goal". Kim and President Xi exchanged messages of congratulations and thanks over the Chinese party congress, but neither leader has visited the other's country since assuming power.

Song, who arrived in Pyongyang on Friday, met with North Korean official Choe Ryong-hae on the same day and senior party leader Ri Su-yong the following day. "Perhaps (the mission) will put a floor under China-North Korea relations, preventing further deterioration".

"He stressed the CPC's stand to steadily develop the traditional friendly relations between the two parties and countries", the KCNA said.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported there was a good chance that the Chinese envoy would meet leader Kim Jong Un today, citing unidentified diplomats in Beijing.

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Traditional friendship between China and North Korea represents "valuable wealth" for their people, China said after its special envoy met a high-ranking North Korean official, but there was no mention of the crisis over North Korea's weapons. They exchanged views about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, and bilateral relations, the KCNA said.

The visit comes as Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy for North Korea, met Friday with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, on the resort island of Jeju in South Korea.

Chinese Ambassador to Pyongyang Li Jinjun, as well as Ri Chang-gun, vice department director of the Central Committee, also attended the talks.

North Korea staged its sixth nuclear test on 3 September, detonating what it said was a hydrogen bomb, and most recently launched a ballistic missile on 15 September, firing it over the Japanese island of Hokkaido into the Pacific Ocean. "If both sides insist on their own logic and refuse to move in the same direction, even if Song opens a door for talks, the door could be closed any time".

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It said that the United States needs "real resolve and drive to change the situation" on the Korean Peninsula, and that allowing Pyongyang to "have a sense of security is the prerequisite for resolving the peninsula nuclear issue".

Trump last week concluded a 12-day, five-country trip to Asia which focused heavily on the global community's reaction to the North Korean nuclear crisis.

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