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China urges US to take steps to ensure North Korea talks resume

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, not pictured, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, on September 12, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

China has welcomed North Korea’s recent "positive signals" on resuming denuclearization talks with the United States, urging Washington to adopt an approach more conducive to dialogue in response to Pyongyang’s goodwill.

"We would be glad to see North Korea and the United States resuming talks on schedule at the end of the month," China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a joint news conference with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah in Beijing on Thursday.

"If there are only preconditions made for the other side, or lists drawn up, or even trying to use extreme pressure to get the other side to make unilateral concessions, then this didn't work in the past and it won't work now or in the future," Wang added.

The Chinese top diplomat further said North Korea has so far taken a series of positive steps, expressing hope that the US side "can also take practical measures in this regard and make due efforts to ease the situation and promote dialogue."

On Monday, North Korea said it was willing to restart nuclear talks with the United States in late September but warned that dealings between the sides could end unless Washington takes a fresh approach.

Within hours of the announcement, North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles from its South Pyongan province, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Wang did not mention North Korea's recent missile tests, but he again suggested United Nations sanctions relief to be considered for Pyongyang.

"We believe that the UN Security Council should in due course consider opening a discussion on the North Korea sanctions resolutions reversal clauses, to help North Korea alleviate the difficulties brought to the economy and people's livelihoods by the sanctions."

Talks between the two sides have stalled since the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam broke up without an agreement or even a joint statement.

Trump walked away from the summit, claiming that Kim had insisted on the removal of all sanctions on North Korea. Pyongyang, however, rejected that account, stressing that it had only asked for a partial lifting of the bans.

Following the failure of the summit, the North repeatedly warned that it was considering ending talks on denuclearization and resuming its nuclear and missile tests over what it described as “the gangster-like stand” of the US.

In their third, brief meeting at the Korean border at the end of June, Kim and Trump agreed to kick-start working-level talks.

Washington has so far refused to offer any sanctions relief in return for several unilateral steps already taken by North Korea. Pyongyang has also demolished at least one nuclear test site and agreed to allow international inspectors into a missile engine test facility.

The US now demands that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons entirely before the sanctions are lifted. Pyongyang insists on a step-by-step approach that would include verifiable American commitment to end its massive military presence near the North Korean territorial waters.

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