China says wants US talks with NKorea to succeed

AP News
Posted: Dec 01, 2009 4:21 AM

China voiced hope Tuesday that a rare direct meeting between North Korean and American officials next week would result in Pyongyang returning to talks on dismantling its nuclear program.

President Barack Obama's special envoy, Stephen Bosworth, is to travel to Pyongyang next Tuesday to discuss restarting the six-nation talks, in the first one-on-one talks between Pyongyang and Washington since Obama took office in January.

"We hope the dialogue between the DPRK and the United States can be held and can be successful," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference, referring to the country by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

North Korea pulled out of nuclear talks in April to protest international criticism of a long-range rocket launch. It then conducted its second-ever nuclear test in May and has pushed for direct talks with the U.S.

The U.S. has said it is willing to engage the North in direct talks but has stressed the discussions must lead to an end of Pyongyang's boycott of the disarmament talks that also involve China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said getting North Korea to return to the talks was the aim of Bosworth's trip.

"That is the main goal of Ambassador Bosworth's trip, to get them to return to the six-party talks," he said in Washington.

But reports from Seoul over the weekend said the meeting was unlikely to produce a major breakthrough. Yonhap news agency quoted a senior South Korean official it didn't identify as saying prospects of achieving a major outcome were "dim for now."

The North says it will rejoin the talks only after "hostile relations" between Pyongyang and Washington turn into "peaceful relations," the official said.

YTN television network carried a similar report, saying it was unlikely Bosworth would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during his trip.