BEIJING - China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) seek an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, leaders of both nations have agreed.
The pledge comes at a time when several parties involved in the nuclear talks have strengthened diplomatic efforts to restart the deadlocked mechanism.
Kim Jong-il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the DPRK's National Defense Commission, expressed this hope during talks with President Hu Jintao on Friday in Changchun, capital of Jilin province, as he paid a five-day unofficial visit to China that ended on Monday.
During the meeting with Hu, Kim said the DPRK remained committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and the country "is not willing to see tensions on the peninsula," Xinhua reported.
Kim said he wished to maintain close communication and coordination with China in pushing for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks to ease the tension on the Korean Peninsula, and to maintain peace and stability there.
Hu said maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula accords with the common aspiration of the people, and China respects and supports positive efforts made by the DPRK to ease the situation.
Hu called on all parties concerned to make positive efforts to defuse the current tension, seek an early restart to the Six-Party Talks and gradually improve the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
It was the sixth visit paid by Kim to China and follows a trip made in May.
The visit came as the situation intensified on the peninsula with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States staging military exercises in surrounding waters.
The ROK-US allies have accused the DPRK of carrying out a submarine assault on a ROK warship in March, which led to the death of 46 sailors. The DPRK proclaimed innocence and threatened to wage nuclear war if it was punished for the incident.
Never before has Kim paid two visits abroad within a year, said observers, noting that there have already been positive signals for a possible restart of the nuclear talks.
China's top negotiator Wu Dawei has been spending the past few weeks traveling to the DPRK and the ROK to seek a restart of the mechanism, said the Foreign Ministry. The ROK has also dropped its demand of a formal apology from the DPRK "for the sinking of the warship" as a pre-condition for the restart of the talks, the ROK's Chosun newspaper reported.
The US State Department also indicated that next month's UN General Assembly meeting in New York will be a chance to directly discuss re-launching the negotiations, AFP reported.
With efforts made by every side involved, there has been increasing communication between the countries and therefore the chances of a conflict are slim despite tensions. This is confirmed by hopes for the talks to restart, according to Piao Jianyi, chief of the Center of Korean Peninsula Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Yet other experts disagree, saying the talks are unlikely to reopen soon despite Kim's positive signals.
"The US and the DRPK have different expectations on the talks," said Zhang Liangui, professor of international strategic research at the Central Party School, adding that while the US seeks denuclearization of the peninsula, the DPRK wants to get the UN sanctions on it lifted.
Observers also said that learning about China's development experience was a major focus of Kim's visit.
Due to the severe flooding and the blockade by the international community, the DPRK has to seek assistance from China and strengthen trade cooperation with Northeast China to tackle its current difficulties, said Huang Youfu, director of the Institute of Korean Studies at the Central University for Nationalities.
During his stay in Jilin and Heilongjiang, Kim visited several agricultural and industrial facilities, which showed that the DPRK was willing to learn about the experience of modernization from China.
Hu said China was ready to work with the DPRK to carefully safeguard and develop friendly and cooperative relations.
Hu emphasized that it is a basic experience of China's reform over the past three decades that economic development calls for self-dependence but cannot be achieved without cooperating with the outside world. This is the inevitable path of the times that accelerates the development of a country.
Piao noted that Kim has said the DPRK's development will be closely connected with cooperation with China.
He predicted that a major party meeting next month in Pyongyang will make important decisions concerning development, probably by drawing inspiration from China's development.