China to send special envoy to North Korea

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China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday that Song Tao, director of the ruling Communist Party's International Liaison Department, would travel to North Korea on Friday.

The trip to Pyongyang by Song Tao, the head of the worldwide department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, comes after Xi and his USA counterpart Donald Trump held a summit in Beijing last week.

The announcement came a day after the end of Trump's five-nation tour of Asia, during which the USA leader held meetings with Xi and urged him to act fast to rein in North Korea, warning that "time is quickly running out".

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On Donald Trump's recent trip to South Korea, the U.S. president toned down his rhetoric and urged North Korea to come to the table and "make a deal".

"China can fix this problem easily and quickly, and I am calling on China and your great president to hopefully work on it very hard", Trump said alongside Xi last Thursday.

It's tradition for China to give briefings to allies after the congress, but the timing may have some kind of message to convey to North Korea.

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Mr Song last visited North Korea 18 months ago.

Chinese banks have stopped dealing with North Korea after the United States unilaterally sanctioned the Bank of Dandong.

They also said that it seems to be part of China's efforts to mend ties with neighboring countries, including North Korea, but cautioned that it remains to be seen whether it will herald any "imminent breakthrough" in the current North Korean nuclear stalemate.

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Washington has urged China to intensify use of its economic leverage over North Korea to strongarm Pyongyang into halting its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

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