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Rice to Visit at Weekend

With one eye on the current nuclear situation on the Korean Peninsula, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will begin her second visit to Asia in four months when she arrives in China this weekend. 

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Rice will visit China from July 9 to 10 to exchange views on Sino-US relations and international and regional issues of common concern, sources with the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.


China is the first stop on Rice's four-nation trip, which will also take her to Thailand, South Korea and Japan, spokesman for the US Department of State Sean McCormack said in a press statement.


The nuclear issue concerning the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), cooperation in fighting terrorism and trans-national crimes, and tsunami recovery and reconstruction efforts are all on Rice's agenda.


"Through Rice's visit, the US wishes to seek a uniform stance with China, South Korea and Japan on the nuclear issue (before a new round of six-party talks)," said Li Xiaogang, a researcher with the Institute of US Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


Once sharing a common consensus on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, China and the US could enjoy "cooperative space to some degree," Li said.


Meanwhile, considering its traditional friendship with DPRK and its unique interests in Northeast Asia, it is difficult for China to meet the expectations of the US side, he noted.


Rice's previous China tour, also her first China visit in her capacity as US secretary of state, was made on March 20. She became the 66th secretary of state on January 26, 2005.


Rice's visit to Seoul, scheduled for July 12-13, comes after a Washington visit by South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, who briefed US officials on his meeting with DPRK leader Kim Jong-il.


Kim was quoted by Chung as saying that the DPRK "is willing to rejoin the six-party talks as early as this month, if the US recognizes and respects the DPRK."


Kim's statement has reignited hope that the stalled six-party talks may resume in the near future.


(China Daily July 7, 2005)

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