China Sends Special Envoy to North Korea
China is sending a special envoy to North Korea later this week.
The official Xinhua news agency says Song Tao, the head of China's Communist Party's external affairs department, will leave for North Korea on Friday to discuss China's recently concluded national congress with North Korean officials. The report gave no further details about Song's upcoming trip to Pyongyang.
China is North Korea's largest trading partner and closest diplomatic ally, but relations between the two have become frayed recently. Beijing is upset with Pyongyang over the regime's continued tests of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, in defiance of numerous international sanctions, and has backed a series of new United Nations sanctions imposed on the North.
U.S. President Donald Trump urged China and other regional leaders to increase their efforts to resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula during his just-concluded five-nation, 12-day trip to Asia.
But China fears that any measure that could topple North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime, could lead to a flood of refugees across its border with the North, and deprive Beijing of a strategic buffer with democratic South Korea.
Zimbabwe's Military Denies Military Takeover
Zimbabwe's military said Wednesday it is not carrying out a military takeover of the government and that both longtime President Robert Mugabe and his family are safe.
"We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice," the military said in a statement on state television.
The announcement followed witness reports of at least three explosions and heavy gunfire in the capital city of Harare early Wednesday.
Witnesses also said military vehicles and soldiers were on the streets early Wednesday, hours after soldiers took over Zimbabwe's state broadcaster, ZBC. Local residents said instead of the usual 11 p.m. newscast, music videos were played instead.
A spokesman at the U.S. embassy in Harare told VOA the streets appeared calm overnight Wednesday and had no confirmed sightings of military vehicles. The embassy warned Americans via its web site to "shelter in their residences" and work from home on Wednesday. They said the embassy will be minimally staffed and closed to the public.
A State Department official said the United States "encourages all Zimbabweans to approach disputes calmly and peacefully while following democratic, transparent, and constitutional processes for resolving differences."