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China Calls for Restart of North Korea Nuclear Talks

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister

September 19: North Korean Vice Foreign Minister looks on during a seminar marking six years since the signing of a joint agreement on denuclearizing North Korea in Beijing, China.AP

China's foreign minister called Monday for the resumption of long-stalled six-nation talks on nuclear disarmament in North Korea following conciliatory gestures by the two rivals recently.

North Korea abruptly walked out of the nuclear negotiations in April 2009 but in recent months the impoverished country has repeatedly expressed its willingness to rejoin the talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear weapons program in return for international aid and other concessions.

South Korean and U.S. officials, however, have been wary of the North's overtures, saying it must first abide by commitments it made in earlier rounds of the talks.

China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, speaking at a seminar in Beijing on the nuclear talks, said China was pleased that positive efforts have recently been made.

"We are happy to see that there have been some new, positive interactions between the parties concerned surrounding the restart of the six party talks," Yang said at the opening ceremony of the seminar, which is part of China's efforts to restart the talks. "The parties must seize these opportunities."

Though he did not get into specifics, the interactions he mentioned likely referred to the top nuclear envoys of the two Koreas agreeing in July in a meeting in Indonesia to work on restarting the talks, which also involve the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

A South Korean official says the envoys -- South Korea's Wi Sung-lac and North Korea's Ri Yong Ho -- will meet again in Beijing on Wednesday to try to create an environment for the negotiations to resume.

During a visit to Russia last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly offered to impose a moratorium on nuclear tests and production if the talks resume.