Chinese leader heads for nuclear talks in North Korea
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Tuesday left for North Korea, where he planned to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear programme with top North Korean leaders, state media said. ( dpa ) The Chinese foreign ministry said earlier that Xi would meet North Korea's main leaders to "exchange views on bilateral relations, and international and regional issues of mutual concern, including the nuclear issue."
Xi is expected to meet North Korea's top leader, Kim Jong Il, whose last reported talks on the nuclear issue with senior Chinese officials came in January.
After the January talks, China quoted Kim as saying North Korea would honour its commitments under a six-nation agreement to dismantle its nuclear programme.
Envoys from the six nations involved in the nuclear talks - North Korea, the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia - held several bilateral meetings in late May in an effort to kickstart the negotiations. North Korea last year agreed to disable and later dismantle its nuclear weapons programme in return for energy aid and other concessions from the other five nations.
But a key sticking point is North Korea's failure to meet the agreed deadline to disclose full details of its nuclear programmes by the end of last year.
Xi, 55, is seen as the likely successor of Hu Jintao as Communist Party leader in 2012 and state president in 2013. After his June 17-19 visit to North Korea, Xi is scheduled to travel to Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen until June 25.