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September 19, 2009

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N. Korea's Kim open to fresh discussions

NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong Il yesterday expressed willingness to engage in "bilateral and multilateral talks," a strong indication that the country could rejoin stalled negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea has insisted on one-on-one talks with the United States over its nuclear programs since April, when it pulled out of six-nation negotiations involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan. China has hosted the disarmament talks since 2003.

North Korea would like to solve "relevant issues" through bilateral and multilateral talks, Kim told a special envoy sent by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Kim also told the envoy, Dai Bingguo, that North Korea "is committed to safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."

North Korea has said it cannot give up its nuclear program as long as the US continues with what it says is a "hostile policy" and plans for a nuclear attack.

In a letter Dai handed to Kim, President Hu reiterated China's stance that the Korean Peninsula should be denuclearized and said China is ready to spare no efforts to work with North Korea to realize that goal.

Yesterday's meeting came as the United States studied a recent proposal by North Korea for direct talks with Washington on its nuclear weapons programs.


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