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Chinese nuke envoy in S. Korea as Carter leads high-profile trip to N. Korea
INCHEON, April 26 (Yonhap) -- China's chief nuclear envoy arrived Tuesday in South Korea with the goal of fine-tuning efforts to restart six-party nuclear talks on North Korea, as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter led a team of ex-leaders into Pyongyang on a private troubleshooting mission.

   Speaking at Incheon International Airport, Chinese envoy Wu Dawei described his South Korean trip as aimed at "coordinating" the positions of Seoul and Beijing, expressing uneasiness over speculation he may be carrying a message from North Korea.

   His trip, which will include a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Wi Sung-lac, coincides with a visit by Carter and three other members of a group called "The Elders" to North Korea, where they hope to meet with leader Kim Jong-il and his heir-apparent son Kim Jong-un.

   The series of diplomatic developments comes as the U.S. and South Korea remain at loggerheads with China and North Korea over the path to restarting six-party talks that also include Japan and Russia.

   Seoul and Washington say the North must first show moves that guarantee it will not relapse into provocative behavior or nuclear arms development. The allies also say the North must cease its uranium enrichment activity that they say is an additional track to developing nuclear bombs.

   In a brief dispatch from Pyongyang, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said The Elders' delegation led by Carter arrived on a charter airplane from Beijing. The former U.S. president, who brought back a jailed American from the North in August last year, told reporters on Monday that his group hopes to help break a nuclear deadlock and ease a food crisis in the North.

   The members of the delegation met with Wu on Monday evening in Beijing, according to Wu. The Chinese diplomat is expected to pay a courtesy call on South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Chun Yung-woo, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, during his stay.

   Following a meeting with North Korea's top nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, Wu proposed on April 11 that the divided Koreas hold nuclear talks to facilitate the resumption of six-party talks.

   South Korea welcomed the proposal but continues to wait until the North produces a separate offer for such dialogue, which Pyongyang has long been reluctant to hold because it claims its nuclear arms are aimed at deterring a U.S. invasion rather than threatening Seoul.

   Carter and his Elders group plan to visit South Korea following their trip to the North. The members visiting Pyongyang include former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former Norwegian Prime Minister Dr. Gro Brundtland and former Irish President Mary Robinson.

   In 1994, Carter met with then-North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il's father, and brokered a U.S.-North Korea nuclear deal. The U.S. State Department has described his trip to the North as "strictly private."

   The Elders is a group of global leaders, mostly consisting of former heads of state, brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to support global peace and humanity.

  (END)
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