North Korea Says it is Ready to Return to Nuclear Talks

North Korea says it is ready to return to six-party talks on its nuclear weapons program if progress also is made on talks with the United States.

The statement was issued Tuesday in North Korean state-run media. The KCNA news agency said Pyongyang’s readiness to re-join the multilateral talks is dependent on the outcome of talks with the United States.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Monday that the U.S. remains willing to engage North Korea “bilaterally within the framework of the six-party process” to convince it to give up its nuclear weapons.

On Monday, as the Chinese premier visited North Korea, China vowed to strengthen ties with its isolated neighbor. Wen Jiabao’s visit marks 60 years since China and North Korea established formal relations.

Mr. Wen held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang late Monday.

In a statement issued Monday by Chinese state media, President Hu Jintao said developing Chinese-North Korean relations is conducive to regional peace and stability.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said Mr. Kim also sent a message to Beijing pledging to “consolidate and develop” the relationship. Impoverished North Korea relies on China for economic aid and diplomatic support.

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