0520 GMT July 18, 2019
China has traditionally been North Korea’s closest ally, though ties had been frayed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles and Beijing’s backing of tough UN sanctions in response, Reuters reported.
But in late March Beijing vowed to uphold its friendship with its neighbor and won a pledge from Kim to denuclearize the peninsula during a meeting with President Xi Jinping.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, who is in Beijing, will visit Russia during his current foreign tour, the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang said Tuesday, AFP reported.
"The North Korean diplomatic chief set off on a foreign tour, part of which will be his visit to Moscow," the embassy said on Facebook, adding: "Bon voyage," AFP reported.
Ri arrived in Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterpart just a week after the North Korean leader made a surprise trip to the Chinese capital where he met President Xi in his first visit abroad since inheriting power from his father in December 2011.
Ri will be the most senior North Korean official to visit Russia in recent years.
Ri will also visit Azerbaijan and other former Soviet republics in coming days, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported, citing a diplomatic source.
The latest visit is part of a flurry of diplomacy that has eased regional tensions after months of bellicose rhetoric between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear program.
Kim is due to hold a summit with South Korea's Moon Jae-in on April 27 and a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump is also planned.