A special envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang today for Russia to discuss ways to improve trade and political ties.

Choe Ryong Hae, a senior official in the ruling Workers’ Party and one of the leader’s close associates, is scheduled to stay in Russia until next Monday.

Russia’s foreign ministry has said Moscow hopes to discuss trade and economic ties, the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in north-east Asia, and other international issues. Mr Choe will visit Moscow as well as Khabarovsk and Vladivostok in Russia’s far east.

He visited Beijing last year as a special envoy and was a member of a high-profile North Korean delegation that went to South Korea in early October during the Asian Games.