S. Korea, China nuclear envoys set to hold talks in Beijing

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top nuclear envoy left for Beijing on Tuesday for talks with his Chinese counterpart on ways to resume the long-stalled six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Hwang Joon-kook is scheduled to meet with Wu Dawei, the Chinese envoy on North Korea, later Tuesday. Their discussions come ahead of an expected visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to South Korea.

"Along with how to strengthen cooperation on deterring the North's nuclear problems, various ways are likely to be discussed over the resumption of the six-party negotiations," Hwang told Yonhap News Agency by phone before departing to China.

Following last week's meeting with Glyn Davies, the U.S. envoy on North Korea, Hwang told reporters in Washington that South Korea, the U.S. and China have been discussing "appropriate conditions" to resume the nuclear talks with North Korea.

North Korea has threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test, raising tension on the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has continued to make provocations by firing two artillery shells in the tensely guarded western sea last month.

Since its third nuclear test last year, North Korea has repeatedly expressed its willingness to return to the long-stalled six-party forum "without preconditions."

South Korea and the U.S. have said that Pyongyang must first show its sincerity toward denuclearization before the disarmament-for-aid talks can resume. But China, which has been a long-time ally to North Korea, has been urging Seoul and Washington to lower their bar for the talks.

At the foreign ministers' meeting in May, South Korea and China shared the view that it is urgent to resume meaningful talks to make tangible progress toward the North's denuclearization and curb Pyongyang's move to advance its nuclear capacity.

The six-party forum, which includes the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, has been dormant since late 2008.

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