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China Says North Korea Did Not Apologize for Nuclear Tests


China is denying South Korean news reports last week that said North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret for carrying out a nuclear test on October 9.

The reports said Kim Jong Il had made the remarks to Chinese envoy Tang Jiaxuan, who visited Pyongyang last week to deliver a message from President Hu Jintao.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao spoke to reporters at a regular briefing Tuesday.

"The reports are certainly not accurate. I have not heard any information that Kim Jong Il apologized," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met with envoy Tang in Beijing following his visit Pyongyang, earlier cast doubt on the reports. Rice said Tang did not tell her that Kim Jong Il had either apologized for the October 9 nuclear test or said that he would not ever test again.

Chinese government spokesman Liu suggests there is no guarantee that Kim will stop the tests.

"He [Kim] also indicated that the North Korean side has no plans to carry out a second nuclear test," the spokesman said. "But, if foreign influences exert more pressure or exert unfair pressure, North Korea could possibly take further measures."

Pyongyang has responded angrily to United Nations sanctions that ban some trade with North Korea and prohibit the transfer of weapons-related items to and from the country.

The United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia are trying to persuade North Korea to return to talks on ending its nuclear programs. Pyongyang has refused to do so for the past year because of financial sanctions the U.S. has imposed on some North Korean enterprises suspected of involvement in crimes such as money laundering and counterfeiting.

Chinese officials on Tuesday had no information on a report in a South Korean newspaper that said Beijing police last month arrested two ethnic Korean men on charges of trying to sell nearly one kilogram of enriched uranium.

The report did not say how enriched the uranium was. Only highly enriched uranium can be used to make bombs. The newspaper said officials are investigating the origin of the uranium, and quoted sources as saying North Korea had not been ruled out as a possible source.

One of the greatest concerns the United States and other countries have is that North Korea will try to sell nuclear weapons or technology to other countries or to terrorist groups.

The U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative aims to block shipments of weapons of mass destruction by North Korea. The latest United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang bar it from shipping most goods that can be used in weapons of mass destruction.

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