Nuclear envoys from S. Korea, China to hold talks in Beijing

BEIJING, June 21 (Yonhap) -- The chief nuclear envoys from South Korea and China are set to meet on Friday, as North Korea expressed its willingness to rejoin talks to resolve its nuclear standoff.

Cho Tae-yong, Seoul's chief negotiator to the stalled six-party talks, arrived in Beijing earlier in the day for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, after holding a trilateral meeting with his American and Japanese counterparts in Washington this week.

The Friday talks between Cho and Wu came two days after the North Korean envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, held a "strategic dialogue" with senior Chinese diplomats in Beijing, with the Chinese foreign ministry saying both sides want to "peacefully solve nuclear issues through dialogue."

Officials from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have cooled expectations for any resumption of talks with North Korea, saying Pyongyang must demonstrate its sincerity toward denuclearization through concrete actions, not through words.

Upon his arrival in Beijing, Cho told Yonhap News Agency that he will hold "useful consultations" with Wu.

"South Korea and China are on the same footing that the two nations won't accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state," Cho said. "Based on the consensus, we will hold consultations."

The North Korean envoy Kim is also in Beijing, but Cho previously ruled out the possibility of any encounter with Kim. Cho is set to return home on Saturday.

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.

South Korean officials played down the North's dialogue offer as its typical "peace offensive."

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 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.

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