Efforts underway to restart six-party talks
A flurry of diplomatic activities is taking place to restart the stalled talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.
Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), will pay an official visit to China today.
Top Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao, are scheduled to meet him and hold discussions on bilateral relations and other important topics of common concern.
The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is expected to be one of the most important.
Kim Yong-nam's arrival will precede a visit by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to Japan, China and Republic of Korea (ROK), which begins on October 22.
The DPRK nuclear issue and the six-party talks are expected to top the list of priorities of Powell's three-nation tour after the fourth round of six-party talks mechanism stalled last month.
Powell expects to "hold discussions with senior officials in the three countries on bilateral matters, regional security and stability, and issues such as the global war on terrorism, Iraq, the DPRK and the six-party talks," the US State Department said in a statement on Friday.
Ning Fukui, China's Special Envoy for DPRK Affairs, on Friday met with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs James Kelly and US Special Envoy to the DPRK Joseph DeTrani.
The United States told the meeting that it is still committed to the six-party process.
The United States "remain prepared to go (back to the table) at an early date and are happy to express that to the Chinese," said US Secretary of State spokesman Richard Boucher.
Ning also paid a visit to the ROK and Japan for discussions on the same issue before arriving in the United States.
"Ning's visit to the involved countries is part of China's efforts to promote a solution to the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said earlier last week.
"China has been in close contact and is co-ordinating with the countries involved in the six-party talks and are actively engaged in promoting the next round of six-party talks," she said.
The United States, China, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea and the DPRK, are the six nations involved in the talks aimed at realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Three rounds of the six-party talks, hosted by China, have been held to try to resolve the stalemate between the United States and DPRK.