North Korean leader calls for resumed disarmament talks in China

Kim Jong Il seeks return to international negotiations during stop China after visiting Russia.

BEIJING // North Korean leader Kim Jong Il renewed a push to restart talks on swapping aid for his country's nuclear disarmament during a stop in northeastern China on Friday on his return journey from Russia.

Kim said he was willing to impose a nuclear test and production moratorium and return to international talks on Pyongyang's atomic program without preconditions, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said, echoing a commitment made earlier in the week in a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a Siberian city.

In talks with State Counselor Dai Bingguo, CCTV said Kim also praised relations with China, his isolated communist state's most important diplomatic ally and a major source of economic assistance.

Traveling aboard his armored train, Kim also toured a machine tool factory, a dairy, an urban planning exhibition and a residential district in the cities of Qiqihar and Daqing in Heilongjiang province, CCTV said.

CCTV did not say where Kim was headed next. Daqing lies about 450 miles (750 kilometers) from the North Korean border by rail.

Kim, 69, is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but appeared relatively vigorous in the CCTV coverage, shaking hands with numerous officials and smiling broadly in his trademark sun glasses and beige leisure suit. The broadcast was unusual because China usually withholds confirmation of Kim's visits to the country until he has returned home.

Kim's last trip to China earlier this year focused on manufacturing and economic sites as China encourages its impoverished ally to reform its economy.

North Korea is eager to see a resumption of the six-nation nuclear talks, a move that could help relieve growing economic woes stemming from natural disasters and deepening international sanctions.

However, Washington and Seoul have been wary of the North's appeals for renewed talks, calling first for an improvement in dismal ties between the Koreas and for a sincere sign from the North that it will abide by past commitments it has made in previous rounds of talks.

North Korea is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least six atomic bombs, and is believed to be working toward mounting a nuclear bomb on a long-range missile.

Last year, it unveiled a uranium enrichment facility that could give it a second way to make nuclear weapons.

Published: August 26, 2011 04:00 AM


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