China buffs up North Korea relations

Oct. 23, 2011 at 1:45 PM

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The Chinese government dispatched a vice premier to North Korea Sunday, a day ahead of international nuclear disbarment talks in Geneva.

Vice Premier Li Keqiang was met in Pyongyang by North Korean Vice Premier Kang Sok Ju, the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The subordinate leadership meeting was described by Chinese officials as an opportunity to "deepen exchanges and cooperation … so as to bring more benefits to the two peoples."

Regardless, the diplomatic timing was obvious. U.S. and North Korean envoys are scheduled to meet for two days beginning Monday in the ongoing bid for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons proliferation.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il spoke last week of resuming disarmament talks with no preconditions, sparking attention from the five other countries committed to defusing the tension.

Talks between North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States collapsed in April 2009 after the United States demanded Pyongyang disclose its nuclear status and halt production of nuclear-grade uranium.

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