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Powell Asks China's Aid in Bringing North Korea Back to Negotiating Table


U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has called on China to press North Korea to return to discussions on the North's nuclear program.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders Monday, and called on them to use China's influence to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

"Obviously China is a major provider of assistance to North Korea, both energy and other forms of assistance, and as a result of that I think China has considerable influence with North Korea," he said. "What we agreed on today was the need for the six-party framework to continue, and for it to continue, it has to meet."

The six-party talks, which include China, the United States, the two Koreas, Japan and Russia, were due to resume last month, but North Korea refused to attend. Pyongyang said it first wants to see an investigation of reports that South Korean scientists conducted secret nuclear experiments many years ago - a revelation only recently made by Seoul.

Secretary Powell said it is up to Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK, North Korea's official name, to break the impasse.

"All the parties are ready," said Mr. Powell. "It's the DPRK that has been showing reluctance to having a next round, but it's the only way forward."

Three earlier rounds in Beijing have ended inconclusively. At the last meeting, in June, the United States proposed allowing other nations to furnish much-needed energy aid to the North in exchange for a freeze of its nuclear weapons program - a program the North Koreans have admitted to having, in violation of international agreements.

North Korean leaders want direct aid from the United States, plus guarantees that U.S. forces will not invade their country.

In remarks during his stop in Japan on Sunday, Mr. Powell said the United States wants to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Mr. Powell's discussions with Chinese leaders Monday also touched on the sensitive issue of Taiwan. He said he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the "one-China" policy, which supports Beijing's claims that the self-governed island is a part of China. He said he especially encouraged China to engage in dialogue with Taiwan's leaders.

Mr. Powell on Monday traveled to South Korea, the last leg of his Asian tour.