Oct. 5 (UPI) -- North Korea Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui met with a deputy Chinese diplomat to "discuss issues of the Korean Peninsula," according to Beijing's foreign ministry on Friday.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou met with Choe in Beijing, and the Chinese government issued a photo, published on its website, showing the two officials shaking hands.
North Korea had issued a preliminary statement on KCNA that Choe was meeting with the Chinese to exchange views on bilateral cooperation.
Quoting a Beijing-based source, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported North Korea is "cultivating allies" in China and Russia ahead of nuclear talks with the United States.
"Ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's fourth visit to North Korea, Vice Foreign Minister Choe's visit to China and Russia is to explain North Korea's position regarding the nuclear issue," Yonhap's source said. "The visit is meant to secure support for [North Korea's] plan for denuclearization and end-of-war declaration."
North Korea has called for the signing of the declaration, to replace the 1953 Armistice, with the United States.
The United States has said sanctions must remain in place.
South Korean newspaper Asia Economy Daily reported Friday Choe may have left for Moscow on a 6:30 p.m. Air China flight, and is likely to be unable to attend the meeting in Pyongyang with Pompeo.
The top U.S. diplomat and U.S. special envoy for North Korea Steve Biegun is to arrive in North Korea on Sunday.
In Moscow, Choe could be preparing for a possible Kim Jong Un visit to Russia.
In September at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russian President Vladimir Putin had said he welcomes Kim for a summit.