Seoul, Beijing to discuss North Korea

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Seoul, Beijing to discuss North Korea

South Korea’s top nuclear envoy left for China yesterday to discuss the aftermath of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s death and ways to revive the six-party talks on the North’s nuclear weapons program.

The two-day visit by Lim Sung-nam to China is seen as another indication of South Korea’s cautious overtures toward North Korea with the sudden demise of Kim, which has left the regime in the hands of his youngest son, Kim Jong-un.

Lim will meet Wu Dawei in Beijing to “share views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula following the death of Kim Jong-il and coordinate methods for the resumption of the six-party talks,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.

Kim died on Saturday, days after Washington and Pyongyang held talks in Beijing to discuss possible food aid for the North. The U.S. State Department said last week’s talks were inconclusive, but more discussions with the North would only be possible after the official mourning period for the late leader ends on Dec. 29.

Kim’s death came at a time of a flurry of renewed diplomatic efforts to resume long-stalled talks on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Following the Beijing talks, North Korea and the United States had been expected to hold a third round of bilateral nuclear talks in Beijing this week, but the planned meeting appears to have been postponed.

Before Kim’s demise, North Korea had been expected to announce during the talks that it would suspend its uranium enrichment program and accept United Nations nuclear monitors in exchange for food aid.

Such North Korean moves are preconditions set by the United States and South Korea for resuming broader six-party talks.

The six-party nuclear talks, which involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have been dormant since the last session in late 2008. Yonhap
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