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China welcomes direct US-DPRK contacts
Updated: 2005-05-10 20:39

China welcomes any direct contact between Washington and Pyongyang -- whether it is within or outside the framework of the Six-Party Talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Liu Jianchao said Beijing believes any form of discussions would be helpful to solve the nuclear stalemate on the Korean Peninsula.

"We are pleased if Washington and Pyongyang have direct contacts in any forms," added Liu at a regular news briefing.

"We support any concrete measure that is favourable to pursuing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he added.

However, the conditions required for direct contact between Pyongyang and Washington depend on the two parties themselves instead of the Chinese side, he said.

Foreign Ministery spokesman Liu Jianchao invites a question during a regular press conference in Beijing, May 10, 2005. [fmprc.gov.cn]
"No matter whether the contact within or outside the framework of the Six-Party Talks, if the two sides could hold exchanges of opinion on the issue, I believe it would be conducive to making progress to the denuclearization process," added Liu.

The US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said on Monday that the United States is willing to have direct contact with DPRK only within the framework of Six-Party Talks.

Casey's words came after the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Sunday that Pyongyang has no intention to hold bilateral talks with Washington, which would be separate from the framework of the Six-Party Talks.

When asked to comment on the reports that the US President George W. Bush called DPRK leader a "tyrant," Liu said "any party of the Six-Party Talks should take measures and words and actions that are favourable to the resumption of the talks, and should not say or do anything not conducive to continuing them."

Turning to the proposal to entrust UN Security Council to deal with the DPRK nuclear programme, Liu said China still regards the Six-Party Talks as the best way to solve the issue.

He said all the involved parties, including Pyongyang and Washington, all agreed to continue with the talks and has pledged to renew efforts to restart the stalled negotiation.

"We should not lose confidence and try our best to push forward the talks," he said.

Equal footing

Liu reassured China's position of not asserting pressures or imposing sanctions to pull DPRK back to the negotiation table, saying Beijing's political and trade relations with Pyongyang should not be linked to the nuclear issue.

Liu said China will continue the "normal state-to-state and trade relations" with the DPRK.

"We stand for resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation on an equal footing. We are not in favour of exerting pressure or imposing sanctions," Liu said. "We believe that such measures are not necessarily effective."

It is reported last week that China had turned down a US request to pressure the DPRK to return to nuclear disarmament talks by cutting off oil supplies.

Six-Party Talks, which involve China, DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan, have been stalled since last June after three rounds.

Asked if China believed Pyongyang was preparing for a nuclear weapons test, Liu said he did not have any evidence or get confirmation from any sides.

It is reported DPRK yesterday accused the United States of making a fuss by notifying the nation's possible preparations for a nuclear test.

EU Troika

The European Union's Troika foreign ministers, Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselbom, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero- Waldner and a representative of British Foreign Secretary will start a two-day visit to Beijing today.

They will meet Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. Textiles and the lifting of arms embargo are expected to be touched upon but no new agreement is expected to be inked during this visit, according to the ministry source.

It is EU's Troika's first official tour to China, which is an important part of the celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and EU.

Ma Keqing, deputy director of Department of European Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, spoke highly of the smooth development of the China-EU relations yesterday, stressing that they are "active" and "fruitful."

"The visit will deepen the bilateral all-around strategic partnership," she said.

The EU has become the biggest trading partner of China while China is the second largest trading partner of the EU, Ma said.

Last year, bilateral trade hit US$177 billion, 74 times of the number in 1975, when the two sides established diplomatic relations.

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