N. Korea to stick with nuclear development, top official tells China

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BEIJING. KAZINFORM - North Korea has no plans to abandon its nuclear development program, a top official from Pyongyang has told China, official media said Wednesday, Kyodo reports.

Ri Su Yong, a vice chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, conveyed that message during a meeting with a senior Chinese official in Beijing on Tuesday, according to North Korea's state-run media.

While briefing Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China, on the results of last month's rare party congress, Ri said the guiding principle of North Korea has been "simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of nuclear force," according to the Korean Central News Agency.

At the congress, which was held for the first time in 36 years, the North Korean party stipulated in its revised rules the "Byungjin Line," leader Kim Jong Un's signature dual-track policy.

It is the first time that the North Korean official media have reported about Ri's three-day visit to China through Thursday.

Ri, a former foreign minister who now serves as head of the party's international department, is the most senior North Korean official to visit China since last September.

A brief announcement released by the Chinese party following the meeting between the two officials did not touch on North Korea's nuclear program.

Attention is focused on whether Ri will be able to meet with higher-ranking Chinese officials during his stay, despite North Korea's declaration of not having any intention to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

Ri's arrival in Beijing on Tuesday morning also came hours after North Korea's apparent failed attempt to conduct a missile launch.

KCNA, however, quoted Song as telling Ri that China supports the Workers' Party and the country led by Kim "advancing along the road of development suited to their actual conditions and sincerely hope that they will successfully attain their grandiose goal set at the Seventh Congress" that concluded May 9.

Song added that the Chinese party "highly values the traditional relations of friendship" between the two countries and "will further consolidate and develop them to suit the new circumstances," according to the news agency.

China, North Korea's sole major ally and its most important trading partner, has been irritated by North Korea's unpredictable and provocative acts.

Bilateral relations further deteriorated after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

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