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China will not accept N. Korea as 'nuclear-armed state': official
SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) -- China's chief nuclear envoy has told his South Korean counterpart that Beijing will not accept North Korea as a "nuclear-armed state," a high-ranking Seoul official said Friday, adding that Seoul, Washington and Beijing reached a consensus on the stance.

   The Chinese envoy Wu Dawei made the remarks when he held talks on Thursday in Beijing with his Seoul counterpart Lim Sung-nam, said the official at Seoul's foreign ministry who is familiar with the Lim-Wu talks.

   The remarks come amid signs that recent tensions might hurt ties between Beijing and Pyongyang, highlighting China's waning tolerance for its neighbor's provocations.

   "During the talks, Wu made it clear that China will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

   "With regard to the issue, I think that we, the U.S. and China have shared a united stance," the official said, adding he "sensed" a growing impatience by China with North Korea's increasing saber-rattling, particularly after the North's December rocket launch and its third nuclear test in February.

   The official said Chinese officials have shown a "significant difference" in their attitude toward North Korea's provocations during the Beijing talks.

   Wu's comments also echoed remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited Beijing and Seoul last month and told reporters in Seoul that, "The United States will not accept the DPRK (North Korea) as a nuclear state."

   The Seoul official also confirmed some media reports that China has ordered its provincial government to strictly implement the latest U.N. sanctions that punished the North for conducting the third nuclear test.

   "I think that China has been increasingly disappointed by the North's provocations, including the December rocket launch and the third nuclear test," the official said.

   Tensions have been high since North Korea's February nuclear test. Angered by the latest U.N. sanctions and the Seoul-Washington military exercises, North Korea has issued a torrent of warlike rhetoric and suspended operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North's border city of Kaesong.

   In what was seen as a veiled swipe at North Korea, Chinese President Xi Jinping said last month that, "No one should be allowed to put a region and even the entire world into chaos for selfish gains."

   As North Korea has rejected an offer of dialogue from South Korea to normalize the Kaesong zone, most remaining South Korean managers have returned home, but seven stayed behind to negotiate unpaid wages for North Korean workers.

   The seven remaining South Koreans were set to return on Friday, Seoul officials said, pushing the last-remaining symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation one step closer to permanent closure.