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(Bloomberg) — Envoys from China are set to become the first foreign delegation to North Korea since the pandemic started, a sign of opening by the secretive nation.

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The group will be led by Li Hongzhong, who sits on the Communist Party of China’s 24-member Politburo, the official Korean Central News Agency reported late Monday. China has confirmed the travel plans.

North Korea sealed its borders soon after the pandemic began in 2020. The trip by the Chinese officials comes as North Korea gradually opens up to China, its biggest benefactor and trade partner, and its neighbor to the northeast, Russia.

Satellite images show that North Korea is planning a military parade on Thursday for the 70th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended fighting in the 1950-1953 war, NK News reported.

See: North Korea Isn’t Talking About Soldier Who Bolted, US Says

The grinding conflict pitted the Chinese and North Koreans against US-led United Nations forces and South Korea. It ended in a stalemate, but Pyongyang and China celebrate July 27 as a victory.

The Chinese delegation would be the first visit by foreigners in about three years, according to NK News, a media outlet based in Seoul that specializes in news and data about North Korea. Pyongyang has not sent any delegations abroad in that time, it added.

In April, North Korea granted special permission so Chinese Ambassador Wang Yajun could enter the country and start his assignment.

There have been no indication that North Korea is ready to accept foreign tourists, who have provided cash for the sanctions-hit nation.

Chinese officials said in September that the main train route with North Korea was reopening after a hiatus of several months due to Covid. The rail line between Dandong, China, and Sinuiju in North Korea is Kim Jong Un’s main link to the world’s No. 2 economy

The few democracies with embassies in Pyongyang withdrew their staff during the pandemic. That complicates attempts by the US to communicate with Kim’s government over an American soldier who crossed into North Korea last week.

More: How Kim Jong Un Is Building a Nuclear North Korea: QuickTake

The US does not have diplomatic ties with North Korea. Sweden has long handled some affairs for Washington in North Korea.

–With assistance from Xiao Zibang.

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