High-ranking Chinese diplomat to visit North Korea

A high-ranking Chinese diplomat plans to travel to Pyongyang later this week amid a flurry of diplomacy following North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's surprise visit to Beijing.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday that Song Tao, who heads the ruling Communist Party's International Department, will lead an art troupe to Pyongyang on Friday to attend an arts festival.

Kim made an unannounced trip to Beijing last month ahead of potentially breakthrough meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump.

The trip, during which he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, was considered an attempt to repair ties that have deteriorated over Kim's development of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technology and China's enforcement of United Nations sanctions.

China is the North's most important trading partner.