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China calls for resumption of N.Korea nuclear talks

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Thursday called for the resumption of six-nation talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear programmes after a top envoy from Pyongyang met with Chinese officials in Beijing.

North Korea's Kim Kye-Gwan, who has been Pyongyang's envoy to the disarmament negotiations for years, held talks Tuesday with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and nuclear envoy Wu Dawei, the foreign ministry said.

"The two sides had a frank and deep exchange of views on bilateral relations, the situation on the Korean peninsula, the six-party talks and other issues of common concern," ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters.

"Our position on the Korean peninsula is clear and consistent, we stand for maintaining the goal of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula."

He urged all nations involved to work toward resuming the long-running and frequently derailed talks, which are hosted by China and include the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia.

Pyongyang pulled out of the forum in April 2009 and conducted its second nuclear test a month later. It conducted its first test in 2006.

Kim has served as the North's top negotiator in the six-party talks but was promoted last month to vice foreign minister.

It was unclear whether Kim would remain involved in the effort.

It is widely believed that Ri Yong-Ho, a veteran diplomat who was promoted to vice foreign minister last month, would succeed him, South Korea's Yonhap news agency has reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly told Chinese President Hu Jintao during an August visit to China that he was willing to return to the six-party talks, without offering any firm time commitment.

The remark came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity apparently aimed at restarting the talks but none of the parties have announced that any clear headway had been made.

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