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Senior N. Korean official close to Kim leaves Pyongyang for Russia

North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui is seen at Pyongyang airport on Nov. 18, 2019. (Kyodo)

PYONGYANG/BEIJING (Kyodo) -- North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, a close aide to leader Kim Jong Un, left Pyongyang for Russia on Monday, as denuclearization talks with the United States have shown few signs of moving forward.

    The purpose of her visit to Russia is not immediately known, but the official may exchange views with Russian officials on how to expedite negotiations with the United States, diplomatic sources said.

    Washington and Pyongyang held a working-level meeting in Stockholm in early October, but it ended without progress. Moscow, meanwhile, has expressed willingness to work as a mediator between the United States and North Korea.

    North Korea, which has pledged to achieve denuclearization since last year, has recently warned it may restart nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests if negotiations with the United States fail to achieve a breakthrough by the end of this year.

    On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump urged Kim to act quickly to strike a deal with the United States. Addressing him directly, Trump tweeted, "You should act quickly, get the deal done. See you soon!"

    In October last year, Choe also visited Russia and talked with her Russian and Chinese counterparts about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

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