Kim Jong-il, the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), pledged to push forward nuclear talks during his China trip, which was confirmed yesterday after a week of media speculation.
At a summit with President Hu Jintao, Kim said his country "will stick to the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and fulfil the joint statement issued in the fourth round of Six-Party Talks."
"The DPRK's stance on promoting Six-Party Talks remains unchanged," Kim was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
He said the DPRK is willing to work with China to overcome difficulties in the talks.
Kim's trip coincides with negotiators launching a flurry of diplomatic contacts to revive the Six-Party Talks, which began in 2003.
The other participants in the talks are the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia.
The US envoy on the DPRK's nuclear programmes, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, met Chinese officials yesterday amid reports that he also had a meeting with his DPRK counterpart to revive the disarmament talks. Hill said no date has been set for resuming the talks.
Pyongyang agreed in September to give up its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and security assurances. But discussions have stalled since November after Washington imposed sanctions on the DPRK for alleged counterfeiting and other government-directed wrongdoing.
The DPRK has refused to return to the negotiations unless Washington lifts the financial sanctions.
President Hu, who visited the DPRK between October 28 and 30 last year, reiterated China's principled stance on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, noting that it is a correct choice to settle problems by peaceful means through dialogue.
"China is ready to unswervingly make joint efforts with relevant parties including the DPRK to promote the Six-Party Talks process," he said.
Kim yesterday concluded his unofficial visit to China, which started on January 10, after touring China's central and southern provinces of Hubei and Guangdong and Beijing.
During his visit to the cities of Wuhan, Yichang, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Shenzhen, Kim, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, visited a dozen enterprises and institutes in the fields of industry, agriculture, science and technology and education.
Kim, also chairman of the DPRK's National Defence Commission, said that China's achievements, especially in Guangdong, as a result of the reform and opening-up policy, have fully demonstrated the vitality and potential of the country's economic development.
Kim said he was greatly impressed by, and benefited quite a lot from, the visit, noting that China's comprehensive national strength has been growing, and the social outlook changing by the day. He said he has a better understanding of China, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese Government's policies on sustainable social and economic development.
China has been following a path featuring its own characteristics, Kim said. "The DPRK also attaches great attention to economic expansion and is ready to further enhance exchanges and co-operation with China, so as to explore a development path in line with the DPRK's national situation."
The entire top Chinese leadership, including top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao, met Kim during the visit.
Source: China Daily