BEIJING (Reuters) - The inaugural flight of a new charter service from North Korea’s capital to the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong landed on Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The launch comes amid ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula over the hermit state’s missile and nuclear tests, which it says are in response to joint drills between the United States and South Korean military.
The twice-weekly flight by Air Koryo, the North’s national carrier, will connect Pyongyang with the “booming” border town of Dandong that is “mainly engaged in border trade with the DPRK”, Xinhua said, using the official name for North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Air Koryo flies to only a handful of destinations and already offers regular flights to Beijing and northern China’s Shenyang city.
Traders in Dandong have complained in recent months of a slump in business as Beijing seemed to become increasing willing to tightening cross-border trade in response to Pyongyang’s missile tests.
On the political front, China has called for a “dual suspension” in which North Korea halts nuclear tests and the United States halts joint drills with South Korea.
China and the United State agreed to work together using both sanctions and diplomacy to persuade North Korea to divert from their nuclear ambitions during U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit two weeks ago.
Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Nick Macfie