Oct. 9 (UPI) — A North Korean official influential in economic affairs arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, en route to Equatorial Guinea, according to a South Korean press report.
Ri Ryong Nam, 58, the vice premier of North Korea’s Cabinet, who had hosted a special South Korean delegation in Pyongyang last month, was seen leaving Beijing’s VIP airport lounge around 10:30 a.m., Yonhap reported.
Ri left Beijing Capital Airport, where Chinese authorities had placed security around the VIP section and blocked access for reporters, according to the report.
The North Korean official is likely to meet with Chinese counterparts. He is regarded as a key player in Pyongyang’s move toward economic cooperation with the outside world.
Ri was responsible for interfacing with South Korean officials and is playing a key role in talks addressing economic cooperation.
Ri’s boss, Premier Pak Pong Ju, is in charge of economic policy.
According to KCNA, Ri is headed to Equatorial Guinea, a Central African country celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence from Spanish colonial rule.
North Korea has condemned the continued enforcement of international sanctions and held a trilateral meeting of diplomats in Moscow on Tuesday, according to NHK.
North Korea’s vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui met with Chinese counterpart Kong Xuanyu and Russian deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov.
Morgulov is in charge of Asia-Pacific affairs in Moscow.
China and Russia have previously called for a gradual easing of sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, a proposal the United States has rejected until denuclearization is complete.