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Hu Has 'Frank' Meeting With Kim But No Date For Next Nuclear Talks

Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Hong-Il upon his arrival at the Pyongyang Airport, 28 October 2005. Hu arrived in North Korea for a rare visit with six-nation talks on the secretive regime's nuclear program expected to top the agenda. AFP photo/ KCNA via Korean News Service.

Beijing (AFP) Nov 1, 2005
Chinese President Hu Jintao held "frank and fruitful" meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and won a pledge that the Stalinist state will return to nuclear disarmament talks, China said Sunday.

But no date has been fixed for a resumption of the multinational negotiations that involve the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States, Chinese Communist Party spokesman Wang Jiarui told reporters.

When the sides last met in September, they all agreed to convene again in Beijing in early November.

Hu returned to Beijing Sunday after Kim saw him off at the airport in Pyongyang. The pair hugged and kissed on the tarmac before Kim clenched his fists above his head as Hu boarded his plane, state television showed.

It was Hu's first trip to North Korea since he took power in 2002, and was aimed at encouraging the North to stay at the nuclear disarmament negotiating table and engage in bolder economic reforms, state media said.

"General Secretary Kim said that he will honour the commitment to participate in the fifth round as scheduled but it is not particularly meaningful to talk about a date," said Wang, who accompanied Hu.

"From what I have observed from the meetings of the leaders and the attitude, we have reason to believe that the meeting will be held as scheduled and will achieve positive results under all sides' efforts."

Wang characterised their talks as "frank and in depth".

"The atmosphere was cordial and friendly, the meetings were frank and in depth and the results were fruitful and meaningful," he said at a press briefing.

Hu told Kim to hold on to what has been achieved on the nuclear issue and work for more progress, according to Chinese state television.

"China stresses the need to stick to the objective of a nuclear-free peninsula, and stick to a course of dialogue and peaceful resolution, so as to preserve peace and stability on the peninsula and in the region," said Hu.

At the September six-party talks, North Korea agreed to a statement of principles under which it would give up its nuclear weapons program in return for energy and security guarantees.

But soon after agreeing to the statement, Pyongyang said it would not dismantle its nuclear arsenal before the United States supplies it with a light-water atomic reactor to generate electricity.

The United States says North Korea, a self-avowed nuclear power, must first disarm before getting incentive bonuses, including the nuclear reactor.

China is seen as North Korea's most loyal ally and Wang said Kim and Hu agreed "both should maintain high level contacts, enrich economic and trade cooperation and consolidate collaboration on common interests."

Wang refused to say if any incentives had been offered to win Kim's pledge, saying only that "economic assistance covers a wide area and we provide help depending on the situation of North Korea".

He acknowledged that the impoverished North continued to struggle with economic reforms but said China had faith in its ability to bring about change.

"The DPRK people and government attach a lot of importance to economic development but they still have a lot of difficulties, including electricity supplies and transportion," he said, referring to the North by its formal initials.

"But we believe that under the party and the country's leadership they will overcome the difficulties."

China is seen as an example that a socialist regime can undergo economic reforms without losing its grip on power and Hu broached the subject at a banquet held in his honor late Friday.

"We have constantly perfected the socialist system, while exploring and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics," Hu said in a speech published by Xinhua news agency.

"It has profoundly changed the face of China, causing an uninterrupted rise in the productive capacity, the overall national strength and the standard of living of the people," he said.

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Beijing (UPI) Nov 1, 2005
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