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Chinese Foreign Minister Li leaves for N. Korea.

BEIJING, March 23 Kyodo

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing departed for North Korea on Tuesday for a three-day state visit that will include discussions about six-nation talks on the North's nuclear programs.

Li took a flight to Pyongyang in the morning from Beijing Capital Airport.

He is due to meet with North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun to discuss the six-party talks as well as regional and bilateral issues, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said last week.

Li's visit, scheduled through Thursday, will make the first time a Chinese foreign minister has visited the country in five years.

The ministry spokesman said the two sides would ''deeply exchange views.''

Li has not announced a specific itinerary for the visit.

The two countries will probably sign something or make a joint announcement, said Ruan Cishan, a political commentator with Phoenix TV in Hong Kong.

''It's a turning point for visits to North Korea,'' Ruan said. ''Normally they would rather send a low-level deputy minister.''

The six-party nuclear talks, the second round of which took place in Beijing last month, are expected to be one of the major topics during the visit, the spokesman earlier said.

The six parties -- China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas -- agreed to meet again before the end of June to discuss how North Korea should dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.

The U.S. did not agree last month to North Korea's conditions for dismantlement, a step that the North opposes unless it gains something for its effort.

Currently, China is trying to set up a working group to sustain the talks between formal sessions.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 29, 2004
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