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(Yonhap Interview) China won't recognize N. Korea as nuclear state

By Kim Deok-hyun

BEIJING, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- China will never recognize North Korea as a nuclear-armed nation, a retired Chinese admiral said Monday, making it clear that the North's nuclear weapons program runs counter to Chinese interests.

Yang Yi, the Chinese admiral who is considered one of the most influential strategic thinkers here, also urged nations involved in the long-stalled six-party talks to discuss the "preconditions" set by South Korea and the U.S. to resume the multilateral process "within the platform of the six-party talks."

   Following its third nuclear test in February, North Korea demanded in April that it be recognized as a nuclear-armed state, saying its nuclear program is not negotiable any more. Despite recent thaws in inter-Korean ties, Pyongyang has shown no signs of giving up its nuclear program.

When asked about the North's demand to be acknowledged as a nuclear state, Yang told Yonhap News Agency in an interview, "They have declared their policy. That's not acceptable. We can't accept this kind of situation that is opposed to the Chinese government.

"They have the preconditions to return to the six-party talks, but they said they are a nuclear state. That's not acceptable," said Yang, who had served as the director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at China's National Defense University until recently.

Yang, however, called for China's long-held view on the resumption of the six-party talks, which have been dormant since late 2008.

"The six-party talks are the only workable platform toward moves for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and also it's the only platform to stabilize the situation in this region," Yang said.

"I think the most important part, at this stage, is that we have to work together, first to get rid of obstacles" to re-start the six-nation talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

North Korea has insisted on "no preconditions to resume the six-party talks, so within the platform of the six-party talks, we can discuss any issues regarding the stabilization of the Korean Peninsula, including denuclearization."

   South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have called on North Korea to demonstrate its seriousness about denuclearizing through concrete actions as a precondition to resuming the six-party dialogue.

Yang made the remarks at a time when China is accelerating its efforts to resume the six-party talks by proposing holding an informal meeting in Beijing this month with senior officials from the six nations.

Organized by the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), affiliated with China's foreign ministry, a so-called Track 1.5 meeting will be held on Sept. 18 in Beijing. Still, it remains unclear whether South Korea and the U.S. would send senior officials to the meeting.

Some analysts in Beijing said China might not allow the North's young leader Kim Jong-un to make a visit to Beijing unless he makes some progress on denuclearization.

Asked about the possible visit by Kim to China by the end of this year, Yang replied, "I have no idea.

"But, I think, if he comes here and if we accept his visit, I think this visit will be good for him, for his country and for the situation in Northeast Asia," Yang said.

"Because if he visits China, China is now opening for reform policy, and we have a prosperous and more progressive society, maybe he can learn something about that."

   kdh@yna.co.kr

(END)

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