May 31, 2016 / 2:25 AM / 4 years ago

Top North Korean official visits China: Kyodo

Ri Su Yong, a member of the Political Bureau of the C. C., the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), is pictured in this Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) handout photo released May 10, 2016. KCNA/via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) - One of North Korea’s highest-profile officials, career diplomat Ri Su Yong, will visit China on Tuesday, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said.

Ri was the country’s foreign minister until he was named a member of the politburo during the recent congress of the ruling Workers’ Party.

Kyodo said his departure from Pyongyang’s international airport was confirmed.

Ri is known as a powerful and close family confidant of the isolated state’s leader Kim Jong Un.

If true, the French-speaking Ri, who acted as Kim’s surrogate father when he was at a Swiss school, is touring China when North Korea’s main ally has been growing increasingly frustrated with it over its nuclear ambitions.

China disapproves of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

South Korea separately said the rival North attempted to fire a missile from its east coast early on Tuesday morning, but the launch appears to have failed.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Michael Perry

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