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Page last updated at 08:10 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 09:10 UK

China's premier to visit N Korea

Wen Jiabao - 10 September 2009
Mr Wen is to host a regional summit later in October on North Korea

China's Premier Wen Jiabao will visit North Korea next week, North Korean state media said, as pressure grows for Pyongyang to return to nuclear talks.

Analysts say such a visit would have been unlikely unless Pyongyang had signalled to Beijing it was ready to ease tensions over the nuclear issue.

North Korea pulled out of six-nation talks earlier this year after criticism of a long-range missile launch.

The North was hit with UN sanctions in June after conducting a nuclear test.

Pyongyang then announced it had reached the final stages of an experimental programme to enrich uranium and was continuing to weaponise plutonium.

North Korea is believed to have enough plutonium for about six atomic bombs.

'Grand bargain'

Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said he was willing to resolve the issue through bilateral and multilateral talks.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited diplomatic sources in Beijing as saying there could be an announcement from Kim Jong-il during Mr Wen's visit about the stalled six-party talks.

China usually hosts the six-party talks - also including both Koreas, Japan, the US and Russia - which North Korea pulled out of earlier this year after international condemnation of a long-range missile launch.

Last week, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak offered North Korea a "grand bargain" - giving up its nuclear plans in return for aid and security guarantees.

Premier Wen is to host new Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Beijing on 10 October, for a summit also expected to focus on North Korea.



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