Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pressure Mounts on North Korea to Return to Talks

By Lindsay Beck, Reuters, Wednesday, March 23, 2005; 4:32 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - North Korea came under renewed pressure on Wednesday to return to six-country talks on its nuclear program as its premier, Pak Pong-ju, met Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing. A diplomatic source in Tokyo said the United States had a June deadline for Pyongyang to return to the table, and China -- the provider of 70 percent of the North's food and fuel aid -- wields particular leverage over its old ally.

With U.S. impatience over the stalled talks rising, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged North Korea at the weekend to return to negotiations immediately. She also said the United States had no intention of invading North Korea. Pak passed on a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to Hu, who was likely to have pressed Pak to make good on comments that the North supports the six-party process.

"The Korean side does not oppose the six-party talks, nor has it given up on the talks. If conditions are mature, the North Korean side is prepared to join the six-party talks at any time," Chinese TV quoted Pak as telling Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday.------------

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