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Beijing calls for N. Korea, U.S. 'direct dialogue'

Staff and wires

Jiang with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin in Beijing
Jiang with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin in Beijing

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Hong Kong (CNN) -- Beijing has urged that the North Korean crisis be resolved through "direct dialogue" between the U.S. and North Korea.

"The nuclear issue in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will be best resolved through direct dialogue between the US and the DPRK," Chinese President Jiang Zemin told visiting French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin on Thursday.

Jiang added that Beijing advocated the non-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintenance of peace and stability in the region.

In his meeting with de Villepin, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan pointed out the North Korean question needed to be tackled in a different way than that of Iraq.

"The nature of the North Korean nuclear question and the Iraqi issue is different," the state media on Friday quoted Tang as saying.

"That is why different resolution mechanisms that are accepted by the international community have come into being."

Tang said the "best way" to handle the Korean issue was direct dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

He added the agreement reached by the US and North Korea in 1994 should be maintained and implemented.

Under the agreement, Pyongyang agreed to freeze its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities in exchange for 500,000 tons of fuel oil a year.

Tang said the stalemate between the U.S. and North Korea should be broken as soon as possible to prevent an escalation of the situation or loss of control.

Also on Thursday, Tang conducted a telephone discussion with Secretary of State Colin Powell in which the former expressed appreciation for Washington's decision earlier this week to start talks with Pyongyang on the dismantling of the latter's nuclear facilities.

"We hope the U.S. side will adopt a flexible attitude in conducting dialogue with North Korea," Tang said.

The Foreign Minister added that a political and diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis would be beneficial to stability in the North Asian region as well as the interests of the U.S. and other parties.



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