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China pushes for talks on Korean issue
By Hu Xiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-15 01:41

China will continue to play an active and constructive role to encourage the various sides to move forward on the basis of the mechanism of the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan made the remarks at a regular press briefing, calling on all six participants to show "flexibility and pragmatism" in order to hold the next round of talks "before the end of September or as soon as possible."

Host country China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia have held three rounds of talks in Beijing since August 2003, in a bid to resolve the nuclear issue. They agreed in June to hold another round of talks by the end of this month.

Kong acknowledged that there are difficulties at the moment, adding that the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula could be reached "step by step."

"I think this is not only the aspiration of the people in the region, but also the desire of the international community," he said.

"But the sky won't fall down" the spokesman said when asked about the consequences if the talks fail to take place before the end of the month as initially agreed.

The DPRK said in a statement last month that it would be impossible for it to take part in the fourth round of the talks due to the "hostile policy" of the United States.

"A nuclear freeze is possible and it can lead to the dismantling of the nuclear programme only when the situation develops in the direction of the US stopping hostile acts against the DPRK," the Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman for the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying last month.

Kong added: "We won't give up (efforts to promote the talks) even if there is only one single reason to be hopeful.".

China has sent Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China to Pyongyang with a letter from President Hu Jintao to DPRK leader Kim Jong-il.

Describing Li's visit as "successful," Kong said that during the meeting the DPRK reiterated that the six-party talks are an effective mechanism to resolve the nuclear issue.

The White House on Monday also praised China's role in hosting the six-party talks.

"China has been very involved in these efforts," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told a news briefing.

Also on Monday, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei met US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly in Beijing.

The two sides vowed to stick to the direction of seeking peaceful solution through dialogue and the goal of creating a nuclear-free peninsula, Kong said, adding that the two sides agreed to enhance communication and co-ordination to push forward the talks.

Speaker of the Upper House of the Russian Parliament Sergei Mironov ended his three-day visit to Pyongyang Tuesday, during which he discussed the nuclear issue with DPRK leaders.

Mironov met Kim on Monday and handed him a personal letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The DPRK's stance of a 'freeze for compensation' is the basis for a future agreement," said Mironov.

British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell also just concluded his Pyongyang visit on the nuclear issue.

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