A special Chinese envoy held discussions with North Korean officials on Sunday, state media reported, amid international efforts to persuade the North to rejoin nuclear disarmament talks.
Wang Jiarui, head of the liaison office of China’s ruling Communist Party, flew to Pyongyang on Saturday for talks expected to focus on the resumption of stalled six-party negotiations on ending the North’s nuclear weapons programme.
On Sunday, Mr. Wang and North Korean Workers’ Party officials held talks in Pyongyang and exchanged views on strengthening ties between the communist neighbours and “matters of mutual concern,” the official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch.
KCNA said the North Koreans included Kim Yong Il, chief of the party’s international department, but it didn’t say what was specifically discussed. Mr. Wang and Mr. Kim Yong Il had already met over a banquet on Saturday, KCNA said.
South Korean media, including the Yonhap news agency, have reported that Mr. Wang’s trip to North Korea appears aimed at pushing the communist North to rejoin the six-party talks on dismantling its nuclear programme in return for aid and other benefits.
Mr. Wang is expected to meet leader Kim Jong Il during his four-day trip, Yonhap reported on Sunday, without citing any source.
Last year, North Korea walked out of the talks held with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States — in anger over international condemnation of a long-range rocket launch. The country later conducted a nuclear test, test-launched a series of ballistic missiles and restarted its plutonium-producing facility, inviting widespread condemnation and tighter U.N. sanctions.
Mr. Wang met Mr. Kim Jong Il during a January 2009 trip to Pyongyang, during which the North Korean leader said his country was “dedicated to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” and wanted to move the international talks forward, according to Beijing’s Xinhua News Agency.
Mr. Wang’s trip comes amid international efforts to jump-start the six-nation talks, with special U.N. envoy B. Lynn Pascoe stopping in Seoul over the weekend en route to North Korea.
North Korea has said its return to the talks hinges on the lifting of the international sanctions and building better relations with the United States.
However, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told reporters in Seoul recently that no discussion about political or economic sanctions can take place before the disarmament talks are back on.