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October 30, 2009

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Hu invites N. Korea's leader in for a visit

CHINESE President Hu Jintao has invited North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for a visit.

The invitation, made to a visiting official of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, Choe Thae-bok, came in a meeting on Wednesday in Beijing, where the two countries pledged to strengthen ties as they celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations.

"At the meeting, comrade Hu Jintao asked Choe Thae-bok to convey his invitation to General Secretary Kim Jong-il to visit China at a time convenient to him," North Korea's official KCNA news agency reported yesterday.

Kim said during a visit to Pyongyang by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao earlier this month that his country would be willing to return to the six-party nuclear disarmament talks, but after holding direct talks with the United States.

A senior North Korean nuclear envoy is in the US and is meeting State Department officials on the sidelines of academic seminars. The meetings may be a prelude to a visit to Pyongyang by senior US nuclear envoys.

Japan's Yomiuri newspaper reported yesterday that the State Department's North Korea desk chief, Sung Kim, and North Korean official Ri Gun reached a basic agreement last weekend in New York to have US special envoy Stephen Bosworth visit Pyongyang around the end of November.

Kim's last trip to China was in 2006. The leader's few journeys abroad are almost never confirmed until the train carrying him crosses the border back into North Korea.


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