China sends high-level diplomatic envoy to North Korea

China on Thursday reiterated its call for an agreement between North Korea and the US under which the North would gain concessions if it freezes its nuclear weapons program, apparently contradicting remarks a day earlier by President Donald Trump.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency released a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watching the launch of an intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 near Pyongyang on August 30.

The statement from foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang Thursday appeared to contradict President Donald Trump's remarks Wednesday that the US and China agreed that North Korea can not just freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for benefits.

China just had its National Congress, the closest thing the Communist party has to elections. On Saturday, Trump indirectly called Kim "short and fat" in a tweet.

China meanwhile, has proposed that to start peace negotiations, North Korea could stop its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for the USA and South Korea stopping regular military drills in the region.

China will send a special envoy to Pyongyang on Friday.

Towards the end of his Asia tour, Trump sent a tweet from Hanoi taunting the North Korean leader over his height and weight.

He was also lauded for showing sincerity in reaffirming American commitment to South Korea's defence and issuing a firm warning to the North. Song, who now holds the position of minister of the worldwide liaison department of the CCP, already visited Vietnam and Laos immediately after the close of the 19th Party Congress.

Donald Trump on Wednesday said China backed him on North Korea.

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".

China is an essential trading partner and source of fuel for North Korea, but few experts share Trump's assessment that pressure from Beijing could offer the kind of quick or easy fix that the United States is looking for.

The two countries would also "exchange opinions on matters of mutual concern" during the visit, Geng said.

Song's department is in charge of the party's relations with foreign political parties, and has traditionally served as a conduit for Chinese diplomacy with North Korea.

Trump had also slammed the human rights violations by the North Korean regime and said that the country is far from the "paradise Kim's grandfather Kim Il-sung had envisioned it to be".

China's new special envoy for North Korea, Kong Xuanyou, who took up his position in August, is not believed to have visited the country yet.

  • Rogelio Becker