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China Says North Korea Agrees on Need to Ease Tensions

China says a top diplomat forged an agreement with North Korea on easing tensions on the Korean peninsula and restarting six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

As tensions continue on the Korean peninsula, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing and Pyongyang have agreed to show restraint.

Jiang, who was giving information on Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo's trip to North Korea last week, says the two sides agreed to avoid taking steps that would further escalate tensions, and will work to safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula.

She said the two sides also agreed to push forward the six party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear arms programs.

Jiang said North Korea has what she called "a positive attitude" toward China's proposal for emergency six-party consultations over the latest tensions. But she stopped short of saying Pyongyang would definitely send a representative if the talks happen.

The six parties include the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

Tensions in Northeast Asia rose sharply after North Korea shelled a South Korean island last month, killing four people. The shelling followed the sinking of a South Korean navy ship last March, which investigators blame on Pyongyang. North Korea says it was not involved.

South Korea, Japan and the United States have responded to the shelling with new military exercises and a round of meetings to discuss new ways to deal with North Korea.

Jiang had no comment on talks between Chinese officials and Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, who is visiting China this week. His discussions are expected to include preparations for Chinese President Hu Jintao's trip to the United State next month, as well as Washington and Beijing's differing opinions on how to resolve the Korea tensions.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson passes through Beijing on his way to Pyongyang later this week. Jiang said she did not know whether Richardson would meet with Chinese officials. But she said China always supports U.S.-North Korean efforts for dialogue.

The State Department has emphasized that Richardson is going to Pyongyang on a private trip, and not as a representative of the U.S. government.