(ATTN: UPDATES with details; ADDS photo)
BEIJING, July 2 (Yonhap) -- A top North Korean official handling economic policy began a trip to China on Monday amid indications that the neighboring countries are seeking to expand bilateral economic cooperation.
Ku Bon-tae, vice minister of external economic affairs, arrived here on an Air Koryo plane and was soon whisked away in a Chinese vehicle.
He's expected to meet Chinese officials to discuss bilateral economic partnerships, especially on the agriculture, railway and electricity sectors, and development assistance.
"The trip by the vice minister of external economic affairs, not an official from the foreign minister, is a show of determination by North Korea and China to seek economic cooperation in earnest," a source here said.
Ku's visit comes less than two weeks after the North's leader Kim Jong-un traveled to the Chinese capital.
During his two-day stay in Beijing last month, Kim had his third known summit with President Xi Jinping and toured the Sci-tech Innovation Institute under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and a Beijing city subway system control center.
Ku attended the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Expo in 2010 and also led Pyongyang's delegation to a Northeast Asian trade fair held in the Chinese province of Jilin, close to the border with the North, in the same year.
He was also present at a meeting between the North's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Pyongyang in May.