US

NKorea official in Beijing after China's ban on coal imports

  • A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard outside the North Korea Embassy in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. A top North Korean diplomat is visiting Beijing in the wake of China's ban on coal imports from its neighbor and the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's older half-brother in Malaysia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard outside the North Korea Embassy in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. A top North Korean diplomat is visiting Beijing in the wake of China's ban on coal imports from its neighbor and the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's older half-brother in Malaysia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pedestrians pass by a Chinese paramilitary policeman standing guard outside the North Korea Embassy in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. A top North Korean diplomat is visiting Beijing in the wake of China's ban on coal imports from its neighbor and the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's older half-brother in Malaysia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Pedestrians pass by a Chinese paramilitary policeman standing guard outside the North Korea Embassy in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. A top North Korean diplomat is visiting Beijing in the wake of China's ban on coal imports from its neighbor and the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's older half-brother in Malaysia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

A top North Korean diplomat is visiting Beijing in the wake of China's ban on coal imports from its neighbor and the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's older half-brother in Malaysia.

The foreign ministry said that Vice Foreign Minister Ri Kil Song arrived on Tuesday, but gave no details.

China last week began a suspension of all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of the year as it increases pressure on its once-close communist ally to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

China is North Korea's largest source of trade and aid, and the move deprives Pyongyang of an important source of foreign currency. Beijing wants the U.S. in return to restart long-stalled negotiations with the North to ease regional tensions.