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Top N Korea official visits China in bid to mend ties

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and has been its key diplomatic protector for decades. But relations have soured following Pyongyang’s internationally-condemned nuclear tests, with Beijing supporting UN sanctions against its isolated neighbour.

The visit by Ri Su Yong, vice chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party and former foreign minister, came even as South Korea said on Tuesday the North had tried and failed to launch a powerful new medium-range missile.

The attempted launch is the latest in a series of setbacks for a ballistic weapons programme that aspires to threaten the US mainland.

UN resolutions ban North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, although it regularly fires short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast. Ri Su Yong met Chinese official Song Tao, head of the international department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee, to brief him on the North’s once-in-a-generation party congress, according to the CCP.

North Korea held its first party congress for nearly 40 years in early May, formally endorsing leader 
Kim Jong-Un’s policy of expanding the country’s nuclear arsenal. 
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