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China Calls for Talks on N. Korea Nuclear Program

China wants to hold semiformal six-nation talks this month on North Korea's nuclear weapons program and has secured Pyongyang's agreement to participate, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday, citing an anonymous informed source.

Beijing envisions the so-called Track 1.5 discussions being attended by the senior nuclear negotiators from China, Japan, the two Koreas and Russia. The talks have been proposed for Sept. 18.

Washington, Tokyo and Seoul reportedly are not enthusiastic about the talks proposal, given a lack of signals from the North that it intends to denuclearize.

"It is uncertain whether South Korea, the U.S. and Japan would send their chief nuclear envoys to the proposed meeting in Beijing," the diplomatic insider told Yonhap.

The last round of formal six-nation negotiations was held in December 2008. The negotiating format is focused on achieving the gradual shutdown of North Korea's nuclear weapons-related work, which would be rewarded with timed infusions of economic support for and international security agreements with the nation.

The two Koreas also are slated on Friday to reconnect a two-way armed forces communication line that has been severed since March, Yonhap separately reported.

Seoul in recent negotiations with Pyongyang demanded that the military hotline be reconnected. Those talks focused on resuming stalled joint economic activities at an industrial zone inside North Korea.

On Thursday, U.S. President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a brief meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. The two leaders were expected to discuss the North's nuclear work among other shared security concerns, according to a White House release.

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