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Chinese Premier Visits North Korea

Chinese Premier Visits North Korea

Chinese Premier Visits North Korea

China has pledged to strengthen its friendship with isolated North Korea, as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao continues a trip to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao held talks in Pyongyang Monday with North Korean leaders. He also visited a cemetery for Chinese soldiers killed in the Korean War, when China supported its Communist allies in North Korea.

Mr. Wen was shown on Chinese television visiting graves of Chinese war casualties, including Mao Anying, the son of Mao Zedong, the first leader of Communist China.

Mr. Wen says all the Chinese people are with him, in visiting the dead Chinese soldiers. He says they will not be forgotten, and urges them to rest in peace.

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North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, made a rare public appearance to greet Mr. Wen at the Pyongyang airport Sunday. That event was highlighted by Korean Central TV.

The announcer says Mr. Kim greeted Mr. Wen with a firm handshake and a warm embrace.

One of the issues expected to be high on Mr. Wen's agenda is whether North Korea will return to the six-party talks, which are aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea pulled out of the talks earlier this year. It also tested both a long-range missile and nuclear explosive earlier in the year, in violation of United Nations sanctions.

Baek Seung-joo, at Seoul's Korea Institute on Defense Analysis, says he thinks North Korea will discuss what he describes as "fundamental nuclear issues" only with the United States, not China.

But, since China is hosting the six party talks and since Beijing is one of Pyongyang's biggest international allies, Baek says North Korea may think more positively on returning to the talks.

North Korea's prime minister Kim Yong Il, told Mr. Wen that Pyongyang is open to nuclear talks, but made no specific endorsement of the six-party formation.

China and North Korea mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations Tuesday.