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Report: North Korea officials likely to discuss military cooperation in China

By Elizabeth Shim
Report: North Korea officials likely to discuss military cooperation in China
Beijing and Pyongyang have stepped up engagement following summits between Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R). File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 22 (UPI) -- A senior North Korean official in Beijing for an upcoming military forum is likely to discuss military cooperation with the Chinese, according to a South Korean press report.

Song Il Hyok, deputy director general of Pyongyang's Institute for Disarmament and Peace, arrived at Beijing's Capital Airport on Monday, ahead of the eighth Beijing Xiangshan Forum, Yonhap reported.

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Kim Hyong Ryong, a vice chief in North Korea's armed forces, accompanied Song. Together, they were ushered to vehicles, some provided by the Chinese government, to quickly exit the airport.

The North Korean delegation was given a "very warm" welcome, and, according to Yonhap, their arrival in China at a time when the two sides are drawing closer is an indication of plans to coordinate armed forces.

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"The fact that North Korea's vice chief in the military is attending opens up the possibility there will be discussions of military cooperation between China and North Korea," a Beijing-based source said.

Song Il Hyok, who is affiliated with North Korea's foreign ministry, was the official responsible for interfacing with U.S. negotiators at the 2015 Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific.

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The Xiangshan Forum begins Wednesday and concludes on Friday. According to Yonhap's source, the North Koreans likely arrived ahead of schedule to hold confidential meetings with Beijing officials.

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Chinese news agency Xinhua reported more than 500 representatives from 67 countries will be in attendance, and issues including global security, counterterrorism and U.N. peacekeeping efforts are to be discussed.

North Korea continues to engage diplomatically with its traditional partners.

Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Monday Ryu Myong Son, deputy leader of the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party, left Pyongyang for Russia, possibly to make summit arrangements in Moscow.

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Kim Jong Un is likely to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin either by the end of October or early November, according to South Korean press reports.

Kim is also expected to hold a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump by the end of the year.

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