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Li's visit to help bring N. Korea back to 6-party talks: expert

2013/08/06 08:58

BEIJING, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- A recent visit by Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao to North Korea is expected to help bring Pyongyang back to the six-party talks on ending the North's nuclear weapons program, a Chinese expert said Tuesday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held talks with Li on July 26 at a time when China has grown increasingly frustrated with its unpredictable neighbor, particularly after the North's third nuclear test in February. Following the talks, both Kim and Li reportedly expressed their support for reconvening the six-party talks.

"The outside world saw the trip as a move by Beijing to renew relations with Pyongyang," Shi Yongming, an associate research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said in his article for Beijing Review, a weekly English magazine.

"But in fact, Li's trip represents another attempt to promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, demonstrating China's resolution to maintain regional peace and stability," Shi said.

Li was the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit North Korea since Kim's ascension to power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in late 2011.

After months of simmering tensions triggered by its third nuclear test in February and bellicose threats against South Korea and the United States, North Korea appeared to have shifted to a charm offensive, offering talks to both countries.

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, however, have called on Pyongyang to first demonstrate its sincerity for denuclearization through actions before such talks could take place.

Shi said, "Pyongyang and Seoul as well as Pyongyang and Washington are incapable of holding substantive talks at the moment."

   "Rather, dialogue between Beijing and Pyongyang appears to be the most important channel for North Korea to learn about the ideas of the international community and bring Pyongyang back to the six-party talks," he said.

"While strengthening cooperation with the United States and South Korea and enhancing communication with North Korea," Shi said China "tries to build mutual trust among parties concerned in hopes that the peninsula could establish lasting peace through reconciliation."

   The six-party talks, which involve the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since late 2008.