North Korea's de-facto chief diplomat Kim Kye-gwan visited Beijing on Monday for the second time in three months. His ostensible purpose was to attend an academic seminar focusing on the six-party talks, which brought together academics and government officials from the countries participating in the negotiations.
Kim was for many years North Korea’s chief negotiator in the talks.
The North was originally expected to send only the new chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong-ho, but Kim and deputy envoy Choe Sun-hee went with him. Choe is the daughter of erstwhile North Korean Premier Choe Yong-rim.
Diplomatic sources in Beijing said North Korea wants to take advantage of the momentum China is seeking to build among other six-party talks members to resume the stalled negotiations and escape from its diplomatic isolation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the recent G20 Summit and urged him to resume the six-party talks as soon as possible.
Wu Dawei, China's chief negotiator, visited North Korea late last month and met with Kim Kye-gwan to discuss resumption of the negotiations.
But South Korea and the U.S. sent only academics to the seminar and councilors from their respective embassies in Beijing as observers, because they are in no hurry to resume the talks.
A diplomatic source said it is the "common stance" of Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to refuse to engage in talks as long as North Korea refuses to live up to its nuclear dismantlement pledges.