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North Korea sends top military official as 'special envoy' to China

Kim Kwang Hyon / AP

Choe Ryong Hae, center, and other North Korean delegates pose before leaving Pyongyang airport for China on Wednesday.

North Korea says that a "special envoy" for leader Kim Jong Un has left for China.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a short dispatch Wednesday that the envoy was Choe Ryong Hae.

There were no other details. Choe is the North Korea military's top political officer tasked with supervising the 1.2-million-strong force.

China is North Korea's only major political and economic benefactor. Beijing has faced pressure from Washington to use its influence to push Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Kim Jong Un hasn't visited Beijing since he took power after his father Kim Jong Il died in December 2011.

Choe was one of a handful of new vice marshals North Korea announced last year.

The Associated Press