North Korea's Number Two Man in China amid Pessimisim over Nuclear Talks

A North Korean delegation headed by the Stalinist state’s deputy leader has arrived in China amid faltering attempts to resolve the standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons programme. Kim Yong-Nam landed at Beijing International Airport, where he was greeted by North Korean embassy staff, Chinese officials and a small honor guard, according to a journalist present at the scene. Kim, on “an official goodwill visit” to Beijing at the invitation of China’s legislature and cabinet, was expected to meet top lawmaker Wu Bangguo later Monday, followed by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday. Kim is the head of North Korea’s legislature and nominally the country’s second most powerful man, although the entire political system is built around the personal authority of supreme leader Kim Jong-Il. He is accompanied by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong-Il, who previously headed the North Korean delegation at six-country talks on the nuclear issue in Beijing, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. China is apparently stepping up efforts to salvage the talks. It sent a senior official to Pyongyang last month, which bore little fruit. After three rounds of inconclusive negotiations, North Korea failed to turn up for a fourth round of multilateral talks scheduled for Beijing last month. North Korea has boycotted the talks to protest South Korea’s controversial nuclear experiments and Washington’s “hostile policy” towards it. Some observers believe the secretive regime is waiting for the outcome of next month’s US presidential election before returning to negotiations.Full Story

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