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October 7, 2009

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North Korea 'willing to resume nuclear talks'

NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong Il has told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that his country is prepared to return to multinational disarmament talks depending on progress in its two-way negotiations with the United States.

Kim's comments were the clearest sign yet that North Korea was readying to resume the six-nation talks it withdrew from after conducting missile tests in April and a second nuclear test in May.

In their meeting on Monday in Pyongyang, Kim told Wen that North Korea is willing to attend multilateral talks, including the six-party talks, depending on the progress in its talks with the US.

Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim told Wen that denuclearization remained a goal and that historically hostile relations with the US "should be converted into peaceful ties through bilateral talks."

US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said yesterday that Washington was aware of reports that North Korea would reconsider opening talks but the US had not yet had details of the meeting from China.

"We've talked to our Chinese partners in the six-party talks and we're conducting close coordination with China and the other partners in the talks," Kelly said. "We, of course, encourage any kind of dialogue that would help lead us to our ultimate goal that's shared by all the partners in the six-party talks, which is the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Kim's remarks came on the second day of Wen's three-day trip to Pyongyang to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the neighbors.

Wen oversaw the signing of several agreements on his trip. On Sunday, the two countries agreed to build a new bridge over the Yalu River, which forms part of their border.

Wen returned to Beijing yesterday morning.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who had accompanied Wen, said yesterday the visit had achieved two major results -- further deepening bilateral relations and promoting the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a positive way.


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