N Korea 'makes nuclear commitment'

Leader Kim Jong-il reportedly says nation wants to co-exist peacefully.

    Kim was alleged to have suffered a
    stroke in August [File: AFP]

    "North Korea is not willing to see tensions emerge in the peninsula, and is willing to strengthen consultation and cooperation with China to push forward the six-party talks," Kim, 67, said, referring to multilateral talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programme in return for aid.

    US relations

    The report came after North Korea hinted in a new year's message that it would work amicably with Barack Obama, the new US president.

    It is Kim's - who is rarely quoted directly - first such appearance in six months.

    "The meeting appears to be aimed at telling Obama that Kim has no problem with his health and is well enough to meet with Obama's envoy," Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University, said.

    North Korea test exploded a nuclear bomb in 2006. They signed an accord a few months later with the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia which said that they would dismantle their nuclear programme in exchange for aid and other concessions.

    However, the North has dragged its heals since then and argued over the monitoring of their nuclear activities.

    Obama has appeared to be open to talking to North Korea, after saying that he would "work with old friends and former foes" to decrease nuclear threats, in his inaugural address on Tuesday.

    However, concrete moves from the US have not materialised as yet.

    US and South Korean officials said earlier in the year that Kim had suffered a stroke but was recovering.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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