Nuclear envoys of China, Japan hold talks on N. Korea

BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- Top nuclear envoys from China and Japan held talks on Monday to coordinate their policies on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program, a senior South Korean diplomat said.

Junichi Ihara, Japan's new envoy for the six-party talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, met with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, earlier in the day, the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.

"I have been informed through a diplomatic channel that the Japanese and Chinese nuclear envoys held talks today," the diplomat said, declining to elaborate.

Officials at China's foreign ministry and the Japanese Embassy in Beijing could not be reached immediately for comment.

Japan's foreign ministry said Friday that Ihara, who was appointed in late June to head Japan's delegation to the multinational dialogue, would make a three-day visit to Beijing from Sunday.

After months of simmering tensions triggered by its third nuclear test in February and bellicose threats against South Korea and the United States, North Korea had appeared to shift to a charm offensive, offering talks with them.

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, however, have called on Pyongyang to first demonstrate its sincerity for denuclearization through actions before such talks can take place.

South Korea and the U.S. are set to launch their annual joint military drills this month, which the North has long denounced as preparations for war.

The North Korea warned last month that the Korean Peninsula would plunge into a "state of catastrophe" if the drills are carried out as planned.

The six-party talks, which involve the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since late 2008.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>