Tue, Oct 24, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Lawmaker claims China not optimistic about talks

AFP , SYDNEY AND AP, TOKYO

China is not optimistic that North Korea will end its nuclear program or re-enter disarmament talks soon, reports quoted a Japanese lawmaker as saying yesterday.

Beijing has asked Pyongyang and Washington for flexibility in efforts to restart the discussions, Japanese lawmaker Ichiro Aisawa said he was told in Beijing by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei (武大偉), according to a report from Kyodo News agency.

"Vice Foreign Minister Wu said that at this point, China is not optimistic about the resumption of the six-party talks or that North Korea will abandon its nuclear program," Aisawa was quoted as saying.

Wu, who is Beijing's nuclear envoy and chairman of the now-stalled six-party talks on halting North Korea's nuclear program, accompanied China's State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇) and Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) to Pyongyang last week to deliver a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Aisawa, chairman of Japan's parliamentary affairs committee, is visiting China to discuss measures following the Oct. 9 nuclear test by the North.

In Tokyo, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said the Chinese government had not relayed such views. He also said Japan will closely cooperate with China and with other members of the six-party framework to achieve the talks as soon as possible.

Aisawa said Wu briefed him "quite frankly" about the meeting with Kim, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said. But he refused to provide details of the talks.

"North Korea showed a slight flexibility," Aisawa quoted Wu as saying.

Kim, however, offered no apology for his claimed nuclear tests, NHK said. "China is also asking the United States for a possibility to show a little bit more flexibility," Aisawa said.

Meanwhile, Australia's navy is ready to intercept and inspect cargo ships travelling to and from North Korea as part of UN sanctions imposed over Pyongyang's nuclear test, Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson said yesterday.

"It is quite possible that we will have one of our ships involved in making sure that the peace and security of our region and our world is supported," Nelson told Australian television.

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