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China to Host North Korean Officials for Talks

North Korean soldiers chat as they stand guard behind national flags of China (front) and North Korea on a boat anchored along the banks of Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, June 10, 2013.
China will host talks with North Korea this week, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after Pyongyang offered high-level negotiations with the United States to ease tension on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea's proposed talks with Washington came days after it abruptly canceled planned official negotiations with South Korea. The White House has said any talks must involve actions by Pyongyang to show it is moving towards scrapping its nuclear weapons.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui will meet North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan on Wednesday in Beijing, spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.

“Holding this kind of strategic dialogue is because China and North Korea always maintain close communication,” Hua said. “China is also paying close attention to the situation on the Korean peninsula and is proactively working to promote each side to quickly restart dialogue and consultation.”

China, North Korea's one major ally, has urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program and return to talks.

Washington has been skeptical of any move by Pyongyang towards dialogue as it has repeatedly backtracked on deals, most recently in 2012, when it agreed to a missile and nuclear test moratorium only to fire a rocket weeks later.

Earlier this year, North Korea threatened nuclear and missile strikes against South Korea and the United States after it was hit with U.N. sanctions for its February nuclear weapons test.