China holds frank talks with N Korea envoy

China said Tuesday it had held "frank" talks with North Korea`s chief nuclear negotiator.

Updated: Mar 20, 2012, 16:11 PM IST

Beijing: China said Tuesday it had held
"frank" talks with North Korea`s chief nuclear negotiator, after Pyongyang announced it had invited UN inspectors to
monitor a nuclear deal with the United States.

A government statement said Wu Dawei, China`s envoy for
the Korean nuclear dispute, and Ri Yong-Ho had a "frank and
in-depth exchange of opinions on how to safeguard peace and
stability on the Korean Peninsula" in Beijing yesterday.

It was the second time the two sides have met since North
Korea announced on Friday that it would launch a rocket
carrying a satellite next month, indicating the level of
concern over the plan in Beijing.

Within hours of that announcement, Chinese vice foreign
minister Zhang Zhijun met Pyongyang`s ambassador to China to
express Beijing`s worries and to urge restraint, according to
an earlier government statement.

Next month`s planned launch, which will violate a United
Nations resolution, has sparked widespread complaints that the
communist state is testing long-range missile technology which
could one day deliver a nuclear warhead.

The announcement came just 16 days after Pyongyang agreed
to suspend long-range missile tests in return for the US food
aid -- a deal North Korea has insisted remains in force.

Washington says any launch would breach a deal announced
on February 29, which offered substantial US food aid for a
partial nuclear freeze.

The North, which came under new leadership in December
under the young and untested Kim Jong-Un, insists otherwise.

"The satellite launch is one thing and the DPRK-US
agreement is another," its negotiator Ri said late yesterday
in Beijing, using the North`s full name, the Democratic
People`s Republic of Korea.

The deal raised modest hopes of progress in decades-long
efforts to curb the North`s nuclear weapons drive, including
long-stalled six-party talks on disarmament that are chaired
by China.