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China defence chief in North Korea, to visit South

Written by: Staff
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SEOUL, Apr 4 (Reuters) China's defence minister arrived in Pyongyang today for unspecified talks at a time when North Korea is facing strong pressure to return to negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programmes.

Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan was greeted by North Korean Vice Minister of the People's Armed Forces Kim Jong-gak, the North's official KCNA news agency said in a brief dispatch. It did not provide further details.

China, North Korea's main benefactor, has been urged to persuade North Korea to agree to another round of so-called six-party talks including the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia. The last round was held in November 2005.

On April 15, Cao is due to lead a delegation of 18 senior military officers to the South for talks on promoting military exchanges between the two countries, South Korea's Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Cao will also meet South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and inspect military units and industrial plants, the ministry said.

The two Koreas are still technically at war after their fratricidal 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace pact.

REUTERS DKS DS1247

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