A top US envoy has held “useful” talks with Chinese officials aimed at easing the threat of war on the Korean peninsula.
Stephen Bosworth met Wang Jiarui, who heads the Communist Party’s international affairs office, vice foreign minister Zhang Zhijun and other officials.
He hoped to gain information about a senior Chinese official’s recent meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il.
A US embassy statement said: “Ambassador Bosworth and Chinese counterparts had useful consultations on how to coordinate moving forward in dealing with North Korea.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed Mr Bosworth’s meetings, saying: “The sides agreed to remain in contact on maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the six-party talks.”
The talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme involve the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia, but have been on hold for nearly two years.
China has come under growing pressure to push North Korea, its close ally, to change its behaviour after the Communist country shelled a South Korean island late last year, killing four people.
In Pyongyang, a North Korean official said that his government wants a “positive dialogue” with Seoul, saying inter-Korean ties are “now at their worst”.
“The issue of inter-Korean relations can never be solved by confrontation, and dialogue and negotiation is the only way out to solve the present grave situation,” said Kim Won Ho, councillor of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the North’s Democratic Front for Korea’s Reunification.
Mr Bosworth met South Korean officials in Seoul on Wednesday, and said he was hopeful for “serious negotiations” soon on the North.