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US envoy holds talks in China on North Korea

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Nov 21 (Reuters) The top US negotiator on North Korea today met Chinese officials in preparation for six-party talks aimed at dismantling the North's nuclear weapons, but there was no immediate word of any firm date.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill was in Beijing last month for talks with China and North Korea that led to the North agreeing to return to the six-party talks, which it had boycotted for a year over US financial restrictions.

This time, Hill met China's chief diplomat in the talks, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, a US embassy spokeswoman said. She said she had no information on whether Hill met any North Korean officials.

Asked yesterday if Hill would meet North Korean diplomats in Beijing, US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in Washington: ''There's nothing scheduled.'' On arriving in Beijing yesterday night, Hill said his visit was part of preparations for the six-party talks, which China has hosted since 2003.

''As we said all along, the six-party talks need to be very well prepared and so this is part of that process,'' he told reporters at the airport. He is due to leave Beijing later this evening.

The North agreed to return to the talks, which involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, three weeks after it conducted a nuclear test on October 9, which brought widespread international condemnation and UN-backed sanctions.

REUTERS SB VV1054

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