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FM Meets US Top Negotiator on 6-Party Talks

Foreign Minister  Li Zhaoxing met with the new top US negotiator on the six-party talks, Christopher Hill, in Beijing on Thursday, discussing Sino-US relations as well as the latest developments in the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

Hill left the United States for Beijing Wednesday following an announcement by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) that it was suspending its participation in the talks, which include China, North Korea, Japan, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Russia and the United States.

Li said that under current circumstances, all parties to the talks should maintain their patience, resolve and confidence, and should make constructive efforts to prevent the situation from further deteriorating. He called for the talks to be resumed as soon as possible.

Both Li and Hill expressed resolve to pursue denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, to maintain peace and stability in the region and to continue the talks.

Hill also met with Vice Foreign Ministers Zhou Wenzhong and Wu Dawei and Chinese Ambassador on Korean Peninsula Affairs Ning Fukui.

Hill was named on Monday by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the new head of the US delegation to the six-party talks.

Hill, currently US ambassador to South Korea, replaces James Kelly, the assistant secretary of state who previously led the US delegation to the talks and who resigned last month as part of a reshuffling of the Bush Administration.

The United States has said it is committed to the six-party talks even though North Korea declared on February 10 that it would withdraw "for an indefinite period."

Also on Thursday, Li met with South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon in Beijing.

Li said that China supports the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and stands for resolving the reasonable concerns of North Korea, adding that it is in the interests of all sides to solve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue and to maintain peace and stability there.

The two agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation.

Three rounds of the six-party talks have been held in Beijing to try to resolve the confrontation between the United States and North Korea on the nuclear issue.

(Xinhua News Agency February 18, 2005)

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