China, UN envoys to urge North to return to table

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China, UN envoys to urge North to return to table

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Chinese Communist Party international affairs chief Wang Jiarui (front left) arrives at an airport near Pyongyang in this photo released by North Korea’s KCNA news agency on Saturday. Wang flew to North Korea at the invitation of the ruling Workers’ Party of North Korea. The Chinese visit appears to be a move to press Pyongyang to return to nuclear disarmament talks. [REUTERS]

As international efforts increase to persuade North Korea to return to the six-nation nuclear talks, a special Chinese envoy began a visit to Pyongyang and met with senior officials there, the North’s state media reported yesterday.

Wang Jiarui, director of the International Liaison Department at the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, met North Korean Workers’ Party officials over a banquet Saturday, the North’s state-run Central News Agency reported. Kim Yong-il, chief of the party’s international department, was among the North Koreans who attended the event, according to the report, which did not elaborate on the content of the discussions.

Wang is expected to stay in the North for about four days, diplomatic sources in Seoul said. They said he will likely urge the North to return to the stalled six-party talks.

It is also remained to be seen if Wang will be able to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Since his first trip to the North in 2001, Wang has visited the country a number of times. He again met Kim during visits in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009, each time delivering a message from Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Six-party negotiations on the North’s nuclear disarmament were last held in December 2008. North Korea has vowed it will never again take part in the talks.

A special envoy of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, B. Lynn Pascoe, arrived in Seoul over the weekend en route to the North. Pascoe will be in Pyongyang from today until Friday, delivering Ban’s message to North Korean authorities.

Meanwhile, the two Koreas will also sit down for talks today in Kaesong to discuss the fate of inter-Korean tour programs. The working-level talks will be devoted to possible resumption of South Korean tours to Kaesong and Mount Kumgang.

Tours to Mount Kumgang, which ran for about 10 years, ended in July 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean solider. In December of that year, tours to Kaesong were also shut down.

Despite Seoul’s demand to have government-to-government talks on the tour programs, the North will use a civilian channel to represent its side.

The South’s delegation will be headed by Kim Nam-shik, director of the Unification Ministry. The North’s delegation will be led by Kang Yong-chol, councilor of the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, a civilian organization devoted to inter-Korean projects.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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“후진타오 6자회담 메시지 전할 것”


중국공산당 왕자루이(王家瑞) 대외연락부 부장(장관급)이 6일 평양에 도착해 3박4일간의 방북 일정에 들어갔다. 왕 부장은 6일 김영일 조선노동당 국제부장을 면담했다고 북한의 조선중앙방송이 전했다. 그의 방북을 계기로 장기간 공전 상태인 북핵 6자회담에 새로운 돌파구가 열릴지 주목된다.

베이징 외교가는 “왕 부장은 그동안 세 차례 방북에서 김정일 국방위원장을 모두 만났다”며 “관례에 따라 김 위원장이 이르면 8일 왕 부장을 접견할 가능성이 크다”고 관측했다. 조선중앙통신은 “김 위원장이 평양음악대학 음악당에서 오페라 ‘예브게니 오네긴’을 6일 관람했다”고 보도했다.
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