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China urges S. Korea to resume nuclear talks with N. Korea

BEIJING-- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has urged his South Korean counterpart to reopen long-stalled multilateral nuclear talks with North Korea, state media said Saturday.

   Wang made the appeal at a bilateral meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

   After conducting its third nuclear test earlier this year, North Korea has expressed its willingness to return to the six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear program. The talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since late 2008.

   But South Korea and the United States insist that North Korea should first live up to its previous denuclearization commitments before any resumption of the six-party process can take place.

   Yun and Wang also agreed on the "need to maintain high-level contact, enhance communication and complete negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement as early as possible," the report said.

   South Korea and China began their formal free trade negotiations in May last year.

   The two sides concluded their seventh round of free trade talks earlier this month, and Seoul officials said they reached an agreement on the modality, or basic guidelines, for the negotiations.

   Agriculture and fisheries are considered to be the most sensitive sectors for South Korea, while China categorizes as sensitive its manufacturing industries, which include the automobile, machinery and oil sectors.

   China is South Korea's largest trading partner, with their bilateral trade volume reaching US$256.3 billion last year.

  (Yonhap News)

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