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(LEAD) China, U.S. in 'in-depth' talks on resumption of N. Korea nuclear talks

2013/09/12 17:09

(ATTN: ADDS quotes on U.S. report that suggests restart of plutonium reactor in North Korea in last 4 paras, details in 2nd para)

BEIJING, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- Senior diplomats from China and the United States held "in-depth" talks on ways to resume the long-stalled talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program, China's foreign ministry said Thursday.

Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative on North Korea policy, left Beijing earlier in the day after meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei on Wednesday. Davies is on a three-nation trip that included South Korea and China.

The meeting between Davies and Wu came as Beijing has been stepping up its efforts to resume the six-party talks, while Seoul and Washington stand firm that they won't sit with Pyongyang at the negotiating table unless the North shows a clear sign on denuclearization.

"The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the Korean nuclear issue and resumption of six-party talks," China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters during a regular press briefing.

"Wu pointed out that the meeting was held against the backdrop of the 10th anniversary of the six-party talks. All relevant parties should be more committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and peace and stability," Hong said.

The six-party talks, launched in 2003, involve the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan. The multilateral forum has been dormant since late 2008.

"All parties should create conditions for the resumption of the six-party talks. China and the U.S. agreed to stay in close communication on relevant issues," Hong said.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been gradually easing as of late. Earlier this year, however, North Korea warned of an imminent war after conducting its third nuclear test.

China has recently suggested a mid-September gathering of senior government officials and academics from the six countries involved in the on-and-off talks on denuclearizing North Korea. The talks, which involve the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, have been stalled since late 2008.

However, South Korea and the U.S. have shown little interest in sending their nuclear envoys to the so-called "Track 1.5" meeting, set for next Wednesday in Beijing.

Earlier in the day, a U.S. research institute, citing recent satellite images, said that North Korea appears to have restarted its plutonium reactor at its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

North Korea said in April that it will restart the five-megawatt reactor that was shuttered in 2007, in a move that renewed alarm over its nuclear weapons program.

Asked about the report by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Hong replied, "We have noted the relevant report."

   "We want to emphasize that China has been committed to realizing denuclearization and upholding peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula," Hong said.