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China seeking new declaration to resume 6-party talks on N. Korea


China has sounded out Japan, South Korea and the United States about issuing a new declaration as part of its efforts to resume the six-party talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear arsenal, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

In the belief that the resumption of the long-stalled talks hinges on mutual trust between North Korea and the United States, China has started exploring the possibility of incorporating some sort of phrases into a document to ensure North Korea's security, the sources said.

But Japan, South Korea and the United States are skeptical about China's approach, given that North Korea has not taken any credible steps toward giving up its nuclear ambitions, such as allowing the return of U.N. inspectors to its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon and halting its uranium enrichment activities, the sources said.

The three countries also remain cautious about North Korea's willingness to engage in dialogue due to its track record of repeated provocations and broken promises.

Involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, the Beijing-brokered aid-for-denuclearization negotiations have been deadlocked since December 2008.

North Korea has long sought a peace treaty with the United States to legally end the Korean War and ensure its security. It has claimed that its nuclear arms development is aimed at responding to the threat from the United States.

The 1950-1953 war ended in an armistice, not a formal peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula technically in a state of war and divided at the 38th parallel.

Russia has more understanding of the idea that has been floated by China, chair of the six-party talks, than the three countries, recognizing the need to take care of North Korea's concerns in some ways, according to the sources.

In recent months, China has been stepping up its efforts to revive the deadlocked nuclear talks.

On Wednesday, in another sign of such efforts, China will host a seminar to mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the six-party talks and the eighth anniversary of an agreement reached therein to provide North Korea with energy assistance in exchange for it abandoning nuclear weapons program.

A North Korean delegation led by Kim Kye Gwan, first vice foreign minister and Pyongyang's point man on nuclear issues, arrived in Beijing on Monday to attend the academic seminar.

Despite Japan's reluctance to restart the six-party talks before North Korea demonstrates its seriousness about denuclearization through concrete actions, a senior Japanese diplomat said he believes "China is making serious efforts more than before for denuclearization. The distance between China and the three countries is narrowing."