North Korea welcomes nuclear talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has agreed to take part in six-party talks on the country's nuclear programmes.

    Kim Jong-il makes few appearances and fewer foreign trips

    Speaking at the end of an unannounced three-day visit to China on Wednesday, the reclusive leader spoke of a flexible, engaged and patient approach to talks.

    According to the official Xinhua news agency, Chinese President and Communist Party chief Hu Jintao and the Korean prime minister have already reached consensus on nuclear issues.
    Kim said North Korea "sticks to the final nuclear-weapon-free goal and its basic position on seeking a peaceful solution through dialogue has not changed."

    The president's rare overseas trip came a week after US Vice President Dick Cheney visited China with new evidence of the North's possession of nuclear arms and warned that time was running out to end the stalemate.
    The fact that the visit was unofficial indicated it was a result of strong demands by China, said Choi Choon-heum, a senior fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification.
    "The two countries emphasised the closeness of the bilateral relationship.

    "I think that part means Kim asked for more economic assistance from China" which the analyst believes it will get at a political price.

    Choi concluded the Chinese would probably put pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear programme and adopt economic and capitalist reform policies.
    At the last round of six-way talks on the nuclear crisis in February, the parties agreed to set up working groups before the next round.

    But nothing has happened and China does not want to see North Korea develop nuclear arms and spark a regional arms race. 



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