Kim wants 'nuclear-free Korea'

Diplomatic visits raises speculation of possible resumption of nuclear talks.

    Chinese envoy Wang Jiaru, centre, held talks with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang on Monday [Reuters]

    The North Korean leader also sent Kim Kye-gwan, his top nuclear envoy, to Beijing on Tuesday raising speculation that the stalled disarmament talks could be set to resume.

    China is the North's biggest benefactor and is seen as having the most influence on the reclusive state.

    China's official Xinhua news agency also reported that Pyongyang will promise to make progress in nuclear disarmament in return for Chinese economic aid.

    The stalled aid for disarmament talks, brokered by Beijing, bring together envoys from the US, Russia, Japan, China and North and South Korea.

    'Dedicated to denuclearisation'

    According to South Korean media, Wang's trip is his fifth since 2004, and that he has met with Kim on all previous visits.

    North Korea walked out of disarmament
    talks last year [EPA]
    A year ago, Kim assured Wang that North Korea remains "dedicated to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" and wanted to move international talks forward, according to Xinhua.

    North Korea walked away from disarmament talks last year in protest at international condemnation of a long-range rocket launch.

    The country later conducted a nuclear test, test-launched a series of missiles and restarted its plutonium-producing facility, resulting in widespread condemnation and tighter UN sanctions.

    As conditions for returning to the talks, the North wants Washington to agree to hold formal peace talks aimed at ending the 1950-1953 Korean War, as well as a lifting of UN-backed sanctions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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