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N. Korean leader renews call for resumption of nuclear talks without preconditions

  (Yonhap News) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has pressed for the quick resumption of long-stalled talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs without preconditions, Pyongyang's state media said Wednesday.

   Kim also repeated the North's longstanding stance that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a dying wish of his late father, the country's founder Kim Il-sung.

   The North quit the disarmament-for-aid talks in April 2009 and conducted a second nuclear test a month later. But it has since repeatedly expressed its desire to return to the negotiating table without any preconditions. The talks involve South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

   "Our principle position remains unchanged that the six-way talks should be quickly resumed without preconditions," Kim said in a written interview with Russia's Itar-Tass news agency last Thursday, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

   Kim also renewed his country's commitment to respecting a 2005 six-party deal in which Pyongyang promised to trade away nuclear programs for economic and political concessions.

   Kim's comments are not new, but they come as North Korean and American officials are preparing to meet in Geneva next week for a second round of meetings on how to resume the nuclear talks.

   Seoul and Washington have insisted, among other things, that Pyongyang halt its uranium enrichment program and allow U.N. inspectors back into the country before resuming the talks.



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