10/20/2006, 00.00
NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
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China claims Kim Jong-il "wants to return to disarmament talks"

The North Korean leader will resume talks "if the US eases the pressure", according to a South Korean newspaper citing Chinese diplomatic sources. Yesterday, the dictator met Chinese envoy Tang Jiaxuan, who delivered a personal message from President Hu Jintao.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Kim Jong-il, North Korea's "Dear Leader" is said to have expressed his willingness to return to nuclear disarmament talks if the United States "eases the pressure", according to Chosun Ibo, South Korea's most popular daily. The newspaper cited Chinese diplomatic sources.

Yesterday, a Beijing delegation led by State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan met Pyongyang's dictator and delivered a personal message from President Hu Jintao. On his return, the mission was described as "significant" by the diplomatic community.

According to an anonymous source, Kim said he was "sorry" for what has been defined as "nuclear provocation".

This was the first time that Kim met a foreigner since he announced the nuclear test that took place on 9 October. The meeting came about as a result of pressure from the international community, which forcefully called on Beijing to compel its ally to give up its nuclear ambitions. An American reaction to North Korea's possible overture could come today, given that Condoleezza Rice is in Beijing.

Internal sources in the capital said that not even China had been informed about the decision to undertake a nuclear experiment. Beijing leaders reacted to the test by describing it as "brazen".

Pyongyang agreed to take part in six-party talks about nuclear disarmament in September 2005 in exchange for energy aid and security benefits. North Korea and China are joined at the talks by the United States, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

But dialogue came to an abrupt end two months later when Washington prevented the regime from accessing overseas banks and accused the North Koreans of money laundering and forging dollars.

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