(PVA) Kim returns to N. Korea after Russia, China visits

27th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il returned to Pyongyang on Saturday, state media said, after a week-long visit to Russia and China where he expressed a willingness to return to six-party nuclear talks.

Kim, who travels by armoured train, arrived in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province on Thursday for talks with senior leaders and a tour of a number of cities in the former industrial rust-belt.

The North Korean leader thanked his hosts and "praised the achievements made by China's northeastern region in adjusting the industrial structure and transforming the economic growth model," the official Xinhua news agency said.

Kim said on Friday he was ready to resume six-party nuclear talks without precondition during a meeting with Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo.

Pyongyang stormed out of six-party negotiations aimed at dismantling its nuclear arsenal in April 2009, and conducted its second nuclear test a month later.

Since then, it has occasionally stated its desire for an early resumption of the talks involving China, Japan and the United States as well as the two Koreas and Russia, "without preconditions".

China is the North's sole major ally and a crucial prop for its ailing economy, especially after South Korea severed most ties with Pyongyang last year, accusing it of torpedoing one of its warships and killing 46 sailors.

On Wednesday, Kim held his first summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a Siberian garrison, and voiced hopes for the resumption of the so-called six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

The summit ended with a Kremlin announcement that North Korea was ready to resume dialogue without preconditions and abandon atomic enrichment and testing once the six-party talks restarted.

The US and South Korea dismissed Kim's declaration, with Seoul saying Pyongyang had to match its words with deeds.

© 2011 AFP

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