Sun, Oct 29, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Ban concludes top-level talks in PRC

AFP , BEIJING

South Korean Foreign Minister and incoming UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon departed Beijing yesterday after China's top leaders warned of increased tensions over North Korean nuclear tests, officials and press reports said.

On Friday, Ban met with President Hu Jintao ((胡錦濤), Hu's top diplomat and special envoy Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇), and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星).

In meetings with Tang, who last week was the first foreign official to meet with reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il following Pyongyang's Oct. 9 nuclear test, Ban was told that the issue on the Korean peninsula was at a "crucial stage," the China Daily said.

Restraint

"Related parties should keep calm and restrained in dealing with the issue to prevent the conflict from escalating," the paper quoted Tang as saying.

"They should safeguard and promote the process of the six-party talks and guide the situation towards the peaceful settlement of the issue through dialogue and making the peninsula nuclear free," Tang said.

"His visit was very successful," a South Korean embassy spokeswoman said of Ban's trip, adding that the diplomat had departed Beijing and returned to Seoul.

"He came to China both as foreign minister and as the next secretary general of the United Nations, so they exchanged views on a lot of issues," she said.

Ban said in Seoul earlier this week that he intended to play an active part in finding a peaceful settlement to the North Korean crisis and pledged to appoint a special UN envoy on North Korea when he takes over in January.

Ban's visit comes as suspicious activities have been continuing in a rugged area of North Korea where the communist state carried out its first nuclear test, South Korean news reports said yesterday.

No plan

Beijing said on Tuesday that in talks with Tang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said he had no plan to test a second atom bomb test.

"He expressed that North Korea does not have a plan for a second nuclear test," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超) told journalists.

China is hoping to get North Korea to return to six party talks on the nuclear issue.

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