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China, South Korea, Japan Leaders Hold Summit Meeting

  • Stephanie Ho

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China says North Korea wants better ties with the United States, Japan and South Korea. Leaders from the three Asian countries met Saturday in Beijing.

North Korea, and its nuclear programs, topped the agenda during a summit in Beijing that brought together Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Speaking at a news conference following the meeting Saturday, the Chinese premier spoke of his recent trip to North Korea, which ended a few days ago.

Mr. Wen says the strongest impression he got from his three days in Pyongyang was that North Korea not only hopes to improve relations with the United States, but also hopes to have better ties with South Korea and Japan.

North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-il is reported to have told Mr. Wen that he would return to the six party nuclear disarmament negotiations - but only if North Korea has one-on-one talks with the United States.

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

A joint statement issued by China, Japan and South Korea in Beijing Saturday said all three countries would make efforts for an early resumption of the six party talks, which also include North Korea, Russia and the United States.

On other issues, the statement said the three countries remain committed to a long term goal of realizing an "East Asian community," which would be a regional grouping inspired by the European Union.

The three nations also presented a united front on regional economic cooperation. Japan and China are the world's second and third largest economies.