North Korean Leader Meets Chinese Envoy
By VOA News
23 January 2009
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has met with a visiting Chinese envoy, in his first reported contact with a foreign official in more than six months.
Chinese and North Korean news media say Mr. Kim met Friday in Pyongyang with Wang Jiarui, the head of the Chinese Communist Party's international liaison department.
North Korean state media released photos of the rare meeting, but no video footage.
Mr. Kim has not received any foreign officials since last July. U.S. and South Korean officials say he suffered a stroke, probably in August. North Korea has denied the claim.
China's official news agency Xinhua quoted Mr. Kim as telling his Chinese visitor that Pyongyang is working to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
The last round of six-party talks in December in China ended without progress after North Korea rejected a proposal on ways to verify its progress toward nuclear disarmament.
The Xinhua report quotes Mr. Kim as saying his country wants to strengthen cooperation with China to promote the six-party negotiation process.
The United States, Russia, South Korea and Japan are also parties in the six-nation talks.
China is the closest ally of North Korea. The two neighbors are marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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