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FM: North Korea talks facing tough times
(Reuters/China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-10 19:31

China said on Tuesday North Korean nuclear talks were facing a "difficult situation", a day after Pyongyang declared it saw no point in returning to six-party negotiations because of U.S. sanctions.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan made the comments as China has been playing host to the six-party talks, which group the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia, and which last met in November.

The six were meant to meet again early this year to try to make progress on North Korea's agreement in principle to dismantle its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and security guarantees, but that now looks unlikely due to Pyongyang's anger over Washington's crackdown on its finances.

Kong said the US sanctions against the DPRK companies had introduced complications on the Six-Party Talks.

"My view is that we are facing a difficult situation now but all parties should make efforts so as to resume the next round of talks as soon as possible," Kong told a regular news conference.

Kong declined to say whether China felt the U.S. sanctions against North Korea should be linked with the six-party talks, saying only that the sanctions and North Korea's objections to them were "a new, complicating factor".

"The Chinese government attaches importance to the combat of money laundering and other financial crimes," he said.

The United States has clamped down on companies it suspects of helping North Korea in counterfeiting, money laundering and the drug trade, and says the sanctions are a separate matter from six-party talks.

Kong said China was staying in touch with all of the parties concerned, with its chief negotiator Wu Dawei having recently met his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

The American embassy in Beijing also confirmed that U.S. chief negotiator Christopher Hill would visit China on Thursday, following visits to Tokyo and Seoul, to discuss the fate of the nuclear talks.

Kong Quan was also asked to comment on the foreign media report concerning the proposed visit to China by Kim Jong-il, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Kong Quan said that he had "no specific information" about the trip.

"Of course Kim Jong-il plans to visit China," Kong said.

"But as for the exact time of the visit, I will release that information when I am authorized."

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