N. Korea repeats offer for nuclear talks

BEIJING, June 19 (Reuters) - A top North Korean diplomat repeated an offer for international talks over his country's disputed nuclear programme during a meeting in China on Wednesday, saying the denuclearisation of the peninsula was the "dying wish" of North Korea's founder.

The Beijing trip by First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan comes just days after North Korea offered talks with the United States to ease tension that spiked this year when the North threatened the United States and South Korea with nuclear war.

The White House said any talks must involve action by the North to show it is moving towards disarmament.

China's Foreign Ministry, after Kim's talks with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, cited the North Korean, who has previously represented his country at talks to get it to halt its nuclear programme, as saying North Korea wanted talks.

"The denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula was the dying wish of Chairman Kim Il-sung and General Secretary Kim Jong-il," the Chinese ministry said in statement, citing Kim as saying.

Kim Il-sung founded the country. His son Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011, oversaw North Korea's first two nuclear tests. North Korea conducted a third test in February.

"North Korea is willing to have dialogue with all sides and attend any kind of meeting, including six-party talks, and hopes to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue via negotiation," Kim Kye-gwan was cited as saying.

Zhang, for his part, said that talks, stability and the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula were in everyone's best interests, China's Foreign Ministry added.

"China supports talks between the various parties and hopes for an early resumption of the six-party talks," Zhang said.

China has repeatedly urged North Korea to return to so-called six-party talks that aimed to get the North to halt its nuclear programme.

In 2009, North Korea said it would never return to those talks. The four other participants in the negotiations were South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia.

The White House said any talks must involve action by North Korea to show it is moving towards disarmament.

North Korea was looking for holes in the international consensus that it must denuclearise by seeking dialogue with various countries, said Wang Dong, an international relations professor at Peking University in Beijing.

"If China's stance is still firm, North Korea will understand that there are no loopholes to exploit," Wang said.

"You can't have your cake and eat it too. I think China will make this clear to North Korea," he said, referring to Pyongyang's refusal to give up its nuclear weapons while at the same time trying to mend ties with key powers.

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