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N. Korea, China hold strategic talks in Beijing

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

BEIJING, June 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's top nuclear envoy reasserted that Pyongyang wants to resolve it nuclear issue through dialogue, China's foreign ministry said Wednesday after meetings with the envoy.

Kim Kye-gwan, the North's first vice foreign minister, said Pyongyang wants a peaceful resolution to the nuclear row through participation in various talks, including the six-nation forum, according to the ministry's website.

Kim was in Beijing from Tuesday, meeting with senior Chinese officials for "strategic dialogue" that watchers say likely focused on the North's nuclear weapons program and bilateral ties.

The foreign ministry said the envoy emphasized that denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula was the wish of the North's late leaders -- the grandfather and father of the country's current leader Kim Jong-un.

Zhang Yesui, China's vice foreign minister, said Korea's denuclearization, peaceful and stabilized Korean Peninsula are all in the interest of related parties and that China wants early resumption of the six-party talks, the ministry said.

The Kim-Zhang meeting Wednesday morning continued over lunch.

"China and North Korea held strategic talks between diplomatic sectors and shared in-depth opinions on bilateral relations and political circumstances surrounding the Korean Peninsula," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing.

Hua said the North Korean envoy also met with Wu Dawei, special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, and was scheduled to meet other senior Chinese diplomats.

Kim was seen leaving the North Korean Embassy Wednesday afternoon and heading to the airport. Sources said the envoy flew to China's northeastern city of Dalian, a major gateway for China-North Korean trade.

The North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said talks "took place in a comradely and friendly atmosphere," with the sides exchanging views on "boosting friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries and other issues of mutual concern."

After months of provocations, including the February nuclear test and bellicose threats against South Korea and the U.S., North Korea has appeared to shift to dialogue in recent weeks. On Sunday, North Korea issued a surprise overture of talks to the U.S. but insisted that there should be no preconditions if such a dialogue takes place -- a condition Washington has said it would never accept.

The North's proposal was met with a cool response from Washington, which called for Pyongyang to demonstrate its sincerity for talks through actions, not words.

Pyongyang had proposed talks with Seoul, but the scheduled dialogue collapsed at the last minute due to a difference over the rank of chief representatives.

In Washington on Wednesday (Washington time), chief nuclear negotiators from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan were to hold a trilateral meeting to coordinate their joint approach toward North Korea, the U.S. State Department said.

The six-party talks aimed at persuading the North to give up its nuclear ambitions have been stalled since late 2008. The multilateral forum involved the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

South Korea and the U.S. have stressed that North Korea must comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and abide by international obligations for the resumption of the six-party talks.

A separate KCNA report said Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that said the Chinese government and the Communist Party "attach importance" to their bilateral relations and that together they defend the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The message was a reply to Kim's greetings sent on Xi's 60th birthday, the report said.

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