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Report: North Korea's Kim wants talks

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Why Kim Jong Il visited China
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kim tells China's president he is ready to resume six-party talks "at an early date," Xinhua says
  • The North Korean leader met with the Chinese premier, Chinese state-run media reports
  • It is Kim's third trip to China since May 2010
RELATED TOPICS
  • Kim Jong Il
  • North Korea
  • China

Beijing, China (CNN) -- Kim Jong Il, the reclusive leader of North Korea, is advocating that six-party talks aimed at dismantling the country's nuclear program resume, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

The comments by Kim came during talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, the news agency said.

Kim, according to Xinhua, said he hopes to ease tension on the Korean peninsula and resume talks "at an early date." He also said he hopes his country's relations with South Korea can be improved, the news agency reported.

It's one of the first public comments by Kim since former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said last month that the North Korean leader indicated he wanted to resume the so-called six-party talks. The talks ended in 2009 when North Korea walked away from negotiations over its nuclear program.

Xinhua's report came the same day North Korea's state media confirmed Kim had returned from an "unofficial visit" to China, its closest ally and largest trading partner.

Read why CNN's Jaime FlorCruz considered Kim's a vital one

Kim was widely reported to have been in China, but both countries declined to formally confirm the visit until now -- even after photos surfaced on websites that appeared to show Kim meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

North Korea's state media also released excerpts of a speech that indicated Kim attended a banquet with Wen and Hu where he thanked the Chinese government for its support.

"We are also satisfied with a good strategic understanding between our two parties and two countries, and with the proper implementation of agreements reached between us and the collective leadership of (China) in the political, economic, cultural and all other fields," Kim said, according to North Korean state media.

The excerpts released by North Korea did not reflect Kim's comments as reported by Xinhua. It was unclear when the speech was delivered.

Kim was on his third China visit since last May, the news agency reported. It quoted him as saying that China and North Korea have made "extensive achievements in their trade cooperation in recent years."

With heavy sanctions still in place on North Korea after its nuclear and missile tests, analysts have said that the communist nation clearly needs help, especially in light of recent reports that an unusually harsh weather has ruined its winter crops.

As a U.S. government delegation traveled Tuesday to North Korea for a four-day trip to assess the food situation, China remained quiet on how it would respond to its isolated neighbor's aid requests.

The U.S. suspended aid two years ago to North Korea because it suspected donated food was being diverted to the military or not reaching those most in need.

Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations, and North and South Korea have no formal ties and remain technically in a state of war since a 1953 truce that ended the Korean War.