China's government is pushing South and North Korea to restart stalled reconciliation efforts.

China has dispatched a senior diplomat to South Korea and welcomed North Korea's vice foreign minister, Kim Yong Il, to Beijing. Beijing also has offered to help restart stalled talks between North Korea and the United States.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said China has long wished for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. He said that last year and the year before there were signs that tensions were relaxing. He says Beijing hopes to see exchanges and cooperation resume soon between the North and South.

China has relations with both Korean governments. The peninsula has been divided for half a century into the communist North and the market-oriented South.

North and South Korea fought a bitter war that ended in 1953 with an armed truce. China was allied with the North in the war, while the United States helped South Korea.

China helped mediate an agreement that led to the historic June 2000 summit meeting of the leaders of South and North Korea. But efforts to improve relations stalled last year, as Pyongyang failed to act on some planned projects.

The North blamed what it saw as a hard-line attitude in the Bush Administration for the breakdown.