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North Korean, Chinese Premiers Meet in Beijing


North Korea's premier is getting high-level treatment in China, where he met with his Chinese counterpart and is scheduled to meet / has met with the Chinese president.

North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il's trip to China is aimed at celebrating his nation's long and friendly relationship with its huge Asian neighbor.

A picture of a smiling Mr. Kim, clasping hands with his equally beaming Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, dominates the front page of Thursday's official China Daily newspaper.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang says the two leaders met for an hour, Wednesday.

Qin says the two leaders had an "extensive" and "in-depth" exchange of views on "bilateral relations and issues of common interest."

The Chinese spokesman says the two sides also discussed nuclear issues.

Qin says China would like to play what he describes as a "constructive role" in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He also says China will maintain close communication and coordination with other countries involved in the six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programs.

Qin gave no date for the next round of the six-party talks, but says China hopes it will be held as soon as possible.

The six-party nations are the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. The talks have stalled because of disagreement about how to verify North Korea's disarmament.

China is one of North Korea's few friends. The China Daily quotes Tsinghua University analyst Liu Jianyong as saying Beijing provides an "irreplaceable channel" to connect Pyongyang with the rest of the world.

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