China urges 'push for progress' to resume N. Korea nuclear talks

BEIJING, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) -- China on Tuesday called on nations involved in the long-stalled talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program to jointly "push for progress" to reopen the multilateral disarmament forum, confirming that its chief nuclear envoy is now on an official visit to Pyongyang.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks a day after North Korea announced that the Chinese envoy, Wu Dawei, arrived in Pyongyang amid a recent flurry of China's diplomacy to narrow differences over the conditions to resume the six-party talks.

With Wu, who met with his U.S. counterparts in Washington last week, in Pyongyang, the spokesman also reiterated China's long-standing stance that nations should be committed to implementing a denuclearization-for-aid agreement reached in 2005 at the six-party talks.

"We should press ahead with the implementation of the Sept. 19 Joint Statement, accommodate each other's concerns and push for progress in a step-by-step manner," Hong replied when asked about whether there are any signs of progress in recent diplomatic efforts to resume the talks.

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

"With regard to the preconditions of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, all parties should come back to the principle of the Sept. 19 Joint Statement, set a reasonable threshold for the dialogue and resume the six-party talks at an early date so as to resolve the Korean nuclear issue in a sustainable and irreversible way," Hong said.

Since conducting its third nuclear test in February, North Korea has repeatedly expressed its willingness to reopen the six-party process "without preconditions."

South Korea and the U.S. have been demanding North Korea show its sincerity first by taking steps to denuclearize itself before the six-party talks are resumed. China has been more accommodating toward North Korea, urging South Korea and the U.S. to lower the bar for Pyongyang to sit down at the negotiating table.

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