February 10, 2010 09:41
North Korea's veteran chief nuclear negotiator on Tuesday visited China and met with his Chinese counterpart. Pyongyang's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan was seen arriving in Beijing on the same plane from the North as Wang Jiarui, the director of the Chinese Communist Party's International Liaison Department.
In Beijing, Kim reportedly met former Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.
Wang on Monday met North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who told him the "sincerity" of the parties to resume the six-party talks was "very important," according China's official Xinhua news agency. Wang delivered a message from Chinese President Hu Jintao inviting Kim to visit China again, Xinhua added.
Since the six-party talks began in 2003, Beijing has several times brought Pyongyang back to the dialogue table by sending senior officials to Pyongyang or serving as a go-between for the U.S. and North Korea when the North boycotted them again.
Given the flurry of visits between Pyongyang and Beijing, it seems likely that the talks will resume soon.
The North's official KCNA news agency merely said Kim Jong-il and Wang held "friendly dialogue" on Monday. They also reportedly discussed Kim's visit to China and economic assistance to the North.
In a break with diplomatic precedent, Wang went to Kim's Hamhung retreat, showing how eager China is to persuade the North to return to the talks, South Korean government officials said. "It seems that China has resumed its initiative to bring the North back to the talks, and the prospects for the six-party talks seem to have brightened a little," a South Korean official said.
But there are reports that Kim Kye-gwan's visit to China had been planned earlier and was not a spontaneous reaction to any proposals Wang made.
The North Korean regime is in a tight spot due to international sanctions and a currency reform gone disastrously wrong and urgently needs China's help.
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