Seoul, May 19: North Korean vice-foreign minister Choe Hui-chol on Saturday made a surprise visit to Beijing on Saturday, ahead of the much-anticipated summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month.
Choe, who is also a diplomat responsible for Southeast Asian affairs, was whisked away by his country's embassy officials to an undisclosed location upon his arrival at the Beijing Capital International Airport, Yonhap news agency reported.
The North Korean vice-foreign minister's visit to China comes after Kim visited Dalian in the country's northwest last week and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The North Korean leader also visited Beijing in March. Also, Choe's visit comes after North Korea called off the scheduled high-level talks with South Korea and further threatened to call off the summit talks with the US in Singapore on June 12.
Pyongyang blamed the ongoing South Korea-US joint air combat drills called 'Max Thunder' and comments related to denuclearisation by US national security advisor John Bolton for "reducing" the possibility of a summit.
Bolton had hinted that adopting a "Libyan model" would result in denuclearisation of North Korea. However, Pyongyang asserted that it would not meet the "same fate" as that of Libya.
It may be recalled that in 2003, Libya had surrendered its weapons of mass destruction programme in return for sanctions relief, but its then-leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled from power and killed by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) backed rebel forces in 2011.