BEIJING, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean policy Stephen Bosworth was in China Thursday as Pyongyang proposed unconditional dialogue with South Korea.
Bosworth arrived in Beijing from South Korea on the second leg of his Asian tour to explore steps to try to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula, including restarting the stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's denuclearization. Bosworth was scheduled to meet with China's top nuclear negotiator Wu Dawei before ending his tour with a visit to Japan Thursday.
The China Daily reported Bosworth met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hawn in Seoul. Kim was quoted as being cautious in saying whether the six-nation talks could restart, calling them a "useful negotiating tool."
The talks, last held in December 2008, include the two Koreas, China, Russia, the United States and Japan.
North Korea Wednesday called for "unconditional and early" talks with South Korea and the Communist country's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Korea relations cannot improve "as long as the said relations remain in the state of confrontation and on the brink of war without dialogue, contact and cooperation."
Zhang Liangui, an expert on Korean affairs at the Central Party School, told China Daily: "Bosworth's visit focuses on tension reduction and denuclearization through negotiations and upon the efforts of the relevant parties. I think there is little obstacle to restart the Six-Party Talks."
Commenting on the North Korean offer of talks, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said: "We're open to dialogue, but it's not just for North Korea to say, 'OK, fine, we'll come talk.' There has to be an appropriate context."
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula worsened after North Korea shelled a South Korea island in November.