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Chinese Delegation to Discuss North Korea with US - 2004-01-13


American and Chinese diplomats are set to meet in Washington Tuesday to discuss North Korea and the international standoff over its nuclear programs.

A U.S. State Department spokesman says the Chinese delegation is expected to meet with Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly.

Diplomats have been working to arrange a new round of six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. A senior Chinese official has said the discussions could be held in February.

Last August, China hosted the first round of talks, which included North and South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the United States.

Meanwhile, Russia said again Tuesday that it welcomes North Korea's offer to freeze its nuclear programs. Speaking in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said he hopes the United States will give a "constructive answer" to the offer.

Last week, North Korea said it would freeze its nuclear weapons program and its nuclear power industry in return for several U.S. concessions. The demands include U.S. aid and the North's removal from Washington's list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

In another development, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has confirmed that officials offered North Korea new economic aid last year. But the statement did not say if the aid was tied to a resumption of nuclear talks.

Also, experts from a U.S.-led consortium that was building two new light-water reactors in North Korea are scheduled to hold talks there this week on the suspended project.

The reactors were part of a 1994 deal to supply North Korea with electricity if it gave up its nuclear weapons program. Work on the reactors was halted when the United States accused Pyongyang of reneging on the agreement.

Some information for this report provided by AP.

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