Beijing: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has told President Hu Jintao during a rare trip to China that he is ready to return to stalled multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, a report said on Thursday.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, without citing sources, said Kim made the pledge during more than four hours of talks with the Chinese president yesterday, during which Hu asked that Pyongyang come back to the table.
The 68-year-old North Korean leader arrived in China on Monday for his first trip abroad in more than four years – a mission analysts have said is aimed at securing badly-needed assistance for a sanctions-hit economy.
In return, many experts had expected Kim to announce he would rejoin talks on ending the North's nuclear weapons drive, though Seoul said today there would be no talks until the sinking of a South Korean warship is resolved.
Kim and Hu met yesterday evening at the Great Hall of the People, ahead of an official welcome dinner for the North Korean delegation, Yonhap reported.
The North Korean leader was expected to meet with Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice President Xi Jinping today, before watching a Chinese opera performed by a North Korean troupe.
Kim was expected to discuss economic cooperation with Wen, who proposed the development of a China-North Korean "economic belt" when he visited Pyongyang last October, Yonhap said.
First Published: Thursday, May 06, 2010, 15:25