Chinese Premier pushes for nuclear-free Korean peninsula

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Pyongyang (North Korea), Oct.5 (ANI): Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for talks with top leader Kim Jong-il Sunday and said that he would be pushing for the creation of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

Experts have said China would not have sent such a senior official unless the visit was to address tensions over North Korea's recent nuclear activities, which have recently included nuclear testing and claims the nation has made progress in enriching uranium. They predicted the topic of nuclear weapons would be on the agenda.

Wen's three-day visit is the first by a Chinese premier in 18 years and is expected to feature reaffirmation of friendship between the two nations, with the trip coinciding with the 60th anniversary of formal relations between the neighbors, the China Daily reports.

Kim greeted Wen on his arrival at Pyongyang airport yesterday morning, along with Kim Yong-nam, president of the presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, and DPRK Premier Kim Yong-il, Xinhua News Agency reported.

China Central Television (CCTV) showed Kim Jong-il embracing Wen after his arrival.

In a meeting with Wen, North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il said the country has never abandoned the goal of "denuclearizing" the Korean Peninsula, according to CCTV.

"We are willing to seek to realize this goal through bilateral and multilateral talks," he said.

Wen said China approved of North Korea's vow to seek "denuclearisation", the CCTV reported.

"The international community universally agrees on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and consultation," Wen told Kim Yong-il.

Wen said that China appreciated the DPRK's commitment to the objectives of making the Peninsula nuclear free and stressed that such a commitment is in the interest of all the parties concerned, including the DPRK.

"China is willing to strengthen communication and consultation with the DPRK," Wen added.

Zhu Feng, a professor in international security at Peking University, said earlier that "this visit will be mostly focused on bolstering bilateral ties and the 60th anniversary, but the nuclear issue is sure to come up".

Yang Xiyu, a senior expert on the DPRK with the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, agreed and said both sides would "take this opportunity to push for the resumption of talks over the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue".

The Six-Party Talks among the DPRK, the ROK, China, Japan, Russia and the United States ground to a halt about a year ago, with Pyongyang saying it would boycott the sessions, which are aimed at making the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free.

Kim Jong-il has since reportedly expressed a willingness to engage in "bilateral and multilateral talks", although it is unclear if that indicates a desire to rejoin the stalled talks.

The DPRK has reached out to regional powers in recent months, including the US, after the United Nations imposed sanctions following its nuclear test in May.

Wen is leading a delegation that also includes Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, General Liu Zhenqi, Commerce Minister Chen Deming and Zhang Ping, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission. (ANI)

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