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Chinese President Calls for US-North Korean Dialogue - 2003-01-10

China's president is calling for dialogue between the United States and North Korea to resolve a dispute over nuclear issues.

The official China Daily says Chinese President Jiang Zemin made the appeal during his meeting with visiting French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

The newspaper Friday quotes Mr. Jiang as saying the tensions over North Korea's nuclear program would be best resolved through direct dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

China is North Korea's last major ally and a major aid donor, but has so far declined to put pressure on its communist neighbor.

On Thursday, China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan also told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that Beijing appreciated Washington's offer of talks with Pyongyang to de-escalate the nuclear crisis. North Korea has not responded to the offer.

China's call for dialogue comes as the crisis over North Korea's nuclear ambitions is heightening. Pyongyang's official news agency Friday announced that North Korea is withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This after the North in December began reactivating its main nuclear power plant frozen under a 1994 accord with the United States.