FM to visit North Korea in July

Updated: 2007-06-21 15:33

TOKYO - Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will visit North Korea in early July ahead of the expected resumption of six-nation talks on halting the Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday.

He told a regular news conference that Yang's July 2-4 trip to North Korea will be part of a three-country tour that also includes Mongolia and Indonesia.

Yang's visit will follow in the footsteps of a rare visit to North Korea by Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill in a bid to accelerate the international efforts to press the communist government to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

"I think the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula will be included," Qin said when asked what would be discussed on Yang's visit.

Yang, who replaced Li Zhaoxing as foreign minister in April, will also discuss regional and international issues in North Korea, Qin said.

Qin said no date for the next round of six-party talks has been set yet.

North Korea, which carried out its first nuclear test explosion in October, promised in a landmark agreement struck in February with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the US that it would shut down its bomb-making nuclear reactor at Yongbyon by mid-April.

Progress was stalled by the financial dispute between Pyongyang and Washington involving alleged North Korean illicit funds. That dispute was resolved in recent days, and although North Korea still hasn't shut the reactor, it invited UN monitors next week to discuss a shutdown.

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