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North Korea Demands Lifting Of Sanctions To Return To Nuclear Talks

North Korea remained adamant in its demand that it will return to the six-party talks on nuclear disarmament only after UN sanctions are lifted.

Pyongyang's continued defiance comes a day after China said chances had brightened for resuming the six-party talks on ending the nuclear stand-off with North Korea following easing of tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea's state-run news agency Yonhap reported that North Korea's nuclear negotiators, during their talks in Beijing, urged China to pressure UN Security Council to lift the sanctions it imposed on the Communist state.

It also reportedly sought Chinese government's support for its demand that the United States agree to start talks about a permanent peace treaty before the nuclear forum resumes.

US officials have asserted in recent months that Washington will not sign a peace treaty with Pyongyang until it abandons its controversial nuclear weapons program.

Kurt Campbell, the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affair, said in South Korean capital last Wednesday that US would not be prepared to ease sanctions or begin discussions to formalize peacetime relations between the Koreas until Pyongyang rejoined the nuclear negotiations.

In a related development, China Wednesday announced the appointment of former Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei as special representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's top political adviser Lynn Pascoe is touring the North to discuss both nuclear matters and humanitarian aid. It is the first visit by a high-level UN official to the reclusive country in six years.

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