Chinese PM to visit North Korea amid nuclear standoff

 China's prime minister will visit North Korea early next week, a trip that could help revive stalled talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao "will pay an official goodwill visit" to North Korea from October 4 to 6, the KCNA news agency said in a one sentence dispatch on Monday.

The South's Yonhap news agency quoted diplomatic sources in Beijing as saying there could be an announcement during Wen's visit about the dormant six-country talks over the North's nuclear disarmament.

Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told a visiting envoy from China, Pyongyang's only major ally, that he will work to end his state's nuclear arms program through multilateral talks.

The North has made similar pledges before but never followed through on them.

Impoverished North Korea in recent months has reached out to the international community after being hit with U.N. sanctions for a nuclear test in May that were aimed at cutting off a vital source of hard currency gained through its arms sales.

Sputtering talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States ground to a halt about a year ago, with Pyongyang saying it will boycott the sessions until Washington drops its hostile attitude.

source AFP

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