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Chinese FM 'confident' of deal with U.S. on N. Korea

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, China's top diplomat expressed confidence Thursday that the two global powers will produce a fresh deal associated with efforts to resume multilateral denuclearization talks with North Korea.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed the need for reviving the six-way negotiations, also involving South Korea, Japan and Russia, in the interest of regional peace and stability.

"I believe it is an important time for the six parties to review the past, summarize the good experience, and open up brighter prospects for the future," Wang said at the start of talks with Kerry in Washington. Some opening statements by Kerry and Wang were released to the media.

Through a translator, Wang said the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is in the common interest of both Beijing and Washington.

"I look forward to having a deep discussion with the secretary on how we can work together to re-launch the six-party talks and effectively push forward the denuclearization process," he said. "And I am confident that we will be able to reach a new, important agreement."

Wang noted his meeting with Kerry is taking place on the eighth anniversary of the signing of the Sept. 19 Joint Statement at the six-way talks. Under the accord, North Korea agreed to abandon all nuclear programs in exchange for political and economic incentives.

The minister's remarks reflect Beijing's drive to restart the six-way talks, last held in December 2008.

Earlier this week, China hosted a government-civilian forum in which North Korea's senior nuclear envoys participated. They called for the resumption of the nuclear talks without preconditions.

Still, the Barack Obama administration remains firm.

"Our position on this hasn't changed... We've said that the onus is on North Korea to take meaningful actions towards denuclearization," Marie Harf, the State Department's deputy spokeswoman, said at a press briefing.

She was responding to a question on the Chinese minister's comments that he was confident of a new agreement on North Korea.

Harf's answer indicated that there was no immediate major breakthrough from the Kerry-Wang meeting on North Korea.

Standing next to the Chinese minister, Kerry emphasized the importance of China's role in resolving the North Korea issue. Beijing is Pyongyang's main patron.

"China plays a very special role in addressing the North Korea nuclear challenge and in achieving our shared goal, the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the secretary said.

Kerry and Wang said Syria and Iran are among the other main subjects of their discussions.

Wang arrived earlier Thursday for a three-day stay, his first trip to the U.S. as China's foreign minister.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/yonhap-news-agency/130919/chinese-fm-confident-deal-us-n-korea-0