North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un on Thursday told China's vice president that he welcomes efforts to reinvigorate moribund denuclearization negotiations, the New York Times reported, citing official Chinese state media.
The young leader "supports China's efforts to restart the six-party talks, and is willing to work together with all sides to maintain the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula," the Xinhua News Agency reported. The six-nation aid-for-denuclearization negotiations involve China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States, but talks have not been held since December 2008.
Vice President Li Yuanchao also voiced Beijing's desire for the "denuclearization" of North Korea. His trip this week to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War marked the first time a Chinese official of his standing had visited the isolated nation since the late 2011 death of previous ruler Kim Jong Il.
Notably, Pyongyang's state-controlled media did not reference Li's call for denuclearization in its summary of the two men's meeting. The news report instead highlighted the longstanding alliance between the two East Asian countries.
In recent months, the North has signaled its wish for new diplomacy but has also emphasized that its nuclear weapons program is not up for negotiation in the present security climate.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Li told the North Korean leader that "China will persist in the denuclearization of the [Korean] Peninsula ... and persist in using dialogue and consultation to resolve the problem," according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department's top sanctions official is slated to travel next week to the South for two days of meetings with finance officials there, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
David Cohen, the Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, is expected to talk about deepening bilateral efforts related to the enforcement of sanctions on both North Korea and Iran.