Meeting: Chinese paramilitary police prepare for the arrival of North Korean envoy Choe Ryong-hae in Beijing. Photo: AP
The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has bluntly told a North Korean envoy his country should return to diplomatic talks designed to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, a state-run Chinese news agency said.
''The denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and lasting peace on the peninsula is what the people want and also the trend of the times,'' Mr Xi said in a meeting at the Great Hall of the People with Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, a personal envoy of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, the China News Service reported.
Mr Choe, in Beijing on a mission to repair the prickly relationship between North Korea and China, handed Mr Xi a letter from Mr Kim, signalling a possible rapprochement after months of estrangement between the communist allies.
In telling the North it should return to the negotiating table, Mr Xi appeared to strike a stern tone, saying: ''The Chinese position is very clear: no matter how the situation changes, relevant parties should all adhere to the goal of denuclearisation of the peninsula, persist in safeguarding its peace and stability, and stick to solving problems through dialogue and consultation.''
The Chinese leader called for resuming the so-called six-party talks, the diplomatic effort among six countries including China and the US that collapsed in 2008 when North Korea walked out.
US experts on North Korea say it is unlikely North Korea would agree to the talks, largely because the US and South Korea would insist on preconditions like a pledge from North Korea that it would abandon its nuclear program.
The warning on Friday from Mr Xi follows a clear message the Chinese president delivered at a conference in April at Boao in southern China, when he said that ''no one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain''.
A US expert on North Korea said on Friday a resumption of the six-party talks that involve China, the US, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Russia was unlikely.
''There is no realistic prospect for any near-term resumption of diplomacy with Pyongyang,'' said Jonathan D. Pollack, the author of a book on North Korea. ''But North Korean actions in recent months have enabled the most candid and realistic discussions between Washington and Beijing that have ever taken place.''
New York Times