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N. Korea urged to smooth U.S., S.K. ties

Oct. 24, 2011 at 3:30 AM   |   Comments

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GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- China's vice premier has urged North Korea to improve its strained relationships with the United States and South Korea.

Li Keqiang told North Korean Premier Choe Yong Rim during a Pyongyang meeting Sunday improving ties and enhancing "dialogues" with the United States and South Korea were "in the interests of various parties concerned" and would "safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Chinese vice premier's prodding came as U.S. and North Korean officials were to meet concerning the revival of long-stalled nuclear disarmament negotiations.

The U.S. and North Korean delegations were to sit down in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday and Tuesday, with talks scheduled to take place at the United States' U.N. mission Monday and the North Korean U.N. mission Tuesday, officials said.

Both sides last met in New York in July.

The Geneva meetings are to include outgoing U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth and incoming envoy Glyn Davies, U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the State Department said.

Bosworth will introduce Davies to the North Korean delegation, including First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan -- who greeted former U.S. President Bill Clinton in August 2009 when Clinton went to North Korea to secure the release of two U.S. TV journalists imprisoned for allegedly crossing into North Korea from China without a visa.

Kim greeted former President Jimmy Carter a year later when Carter went to North Korea to secure the release of a Boston teacher also imprisoned for allegedly entering the country illegally.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il Wednesday repeated calls to resume the so-called six-party disarmament-for-aid talks.

The talks, involving both Koreas, the United States, Russia, China and Japan, stalled in 2008, and Pyongyang pulled out April 14, 2009, announcing it would resume its nuclear-enrichment program to boost its nuclear deterrent.

In March 2010, it allegedly torpedoed a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 South Korean servicemen. Pyongyang denied the allegation.

In November 2010 the North shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing four people, after a Southern military exercise in the area. North Korea said it responded to South Korean shells being fired into North Korean territorial waters.

Monday's talks follow an agreement between Washington and Pyongyang to resume searches, after a six-year hiatus, for the remains of Americans killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War.

More than 36,000 Americans were killed in the war, including more than 2,800 whose deaths were designated non-combat deaths. More than 8,000 Americans were listed as missing in action and more than 7,000 were listed as prisoners of war.

The United States and North Korea are still formally at war.

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