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(3rd LD) China's Xi meets N. Korean delegation

All News 18:18 June 01, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with report of meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean delegation in first 3 paras; CHANGES headline; TRIMS)
By Kim Deok-hyun

BEIJING, June 1 (Yonhap) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday met a delegation from North Korea's ruling party led by a top party official, Ri Su-yong, China's official media reported.

The Xinhua news agency's report gave no further details, but it was the first time in about three years that Xi has met senior North Korean officials as their political ties remain cool over the North's nuclear weapons program.

A vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party's central committee and the party's chief of international relations, Ri arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a three-day visit, in an apparent bid to normalize the soured political ties.

He held talks with Song Tao, minister of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party, on Tuesday evening and both sides voiced hope to boost cooperation.

In a brief statement on the Tuesday talks, the Chinese Communist Party stopped short of saying that Ri and Song discussed North Korea's nuclear program.

However, North Korea's official media reported on Wednesday that Ri told Song that the North will not give up its policy of simultaneously pursuing both economic development and nuclear development.

North Korea was hit by tougher U.N. sanctions in March following its fourth nuclear test in January and launch of a long-range rocket in February.

During a regular press briefing on Wednesday, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was asked about the remarks by Ri on North Korea's nuclear policy. Hua sidestepped the question and repeated China's stance on North Korea's nuclear issue.

"We stay committed to promoting the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, peace and stability of the peninsula as well as a proper settlement of relevant issues through dialogue and consultation," Hua said.

"We believe that sound relationship between the two countries is conducive to peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula," Hua said.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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