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China foreign minister to visit S. Korea next week

SEOUL, Monday 14 February 2011 (AFP) - Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will visit South Korea next week for talks focused on North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, the South's foreign ministry said Monday.

Yang is expected to arrive on February 23, the ministry said, adding his meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan would cover security issues including the North's nuclear programme.

Yang had planned to visit Seoul last November but his trip was postponed after the North's shelling of a South Korean island, which killed four people and briefly raised fears of war.

Seoul is now seeking to bring the North's uranium enrichment programme to the United Nations Security Council for possible condemnation and further sanctions.

China opposes taking the issue to the Security Council.

The North last November showed off an apparently functioning uranium enrichment plant to visiting US scientists. It says this is part of a peaceful energy programme.

Experts say it could easily be reconfigured to produce weapons-grade uranium, giving the North a second way to make a bomb in addition to an acknowledged plutonium operation.

China wants six-party disarmament talks revived as part of a process to ease tensions on the peninsula. But the United States and Japan say Pyongyang must mend ties first with Seoul.

The two Koreas last week held their first talks since November. But the talks aimed at easing tensions collapsed, complicating efforts to revive the six-party forum.

MySinchew 2011.02.14

 

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