North Korean leader Kim Jong-il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to nuclear talks if Washington backs off from its financial sanctions, a South Korean newspaper reported yesterday.
"If the US makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks," Kim was quoted as telling a Chinese envoy, the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo reported, citing a diplomatic source in China.
Kim told the Chinese delegation that "he is sorry about the nuclear test," the newspaper reported.
The delegation led by State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan (
Kim also told Tang that his country would not conduct a second nuclear weapons test, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported yesterday.
The agency quoted an unidentified diplomatic source in Beijing as saying: "Kim was known to have clarified his stance that there will be no additional nuclear test."
China is viewed as a key nation in efforts to persuade the North to disarm. North Korea has long insisted that the US desist from a campaign to sever its ties to the international financial system. Washington accuses Pyongyang of complicity in counterfeiting and money laundering to sell weapons of mass destruction.
The North has refused since last November to return to the nuclear talks, which also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Pyongyang has sought to bolster its negotiating position by a series of provocative actions, test-firing a barrage of missiles in July and performing its first-ever nuclear test on Oct. 9.
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