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North Korean letter to China signals rapprochement

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 9:45 p.m.
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, greets North Korean Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae in Beijing Friday, May 24, 2013. The top North Korean envoy delivered a letter from leader Kim Jong Un to Xi on Friday and told him Pyongyang would take steps to rejoin stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, in an apparent victory for Beijing's efforts to coax its unruly ally into lowering tensions. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Rao Aimin) NO SALES

BEIJING — A top North Korean envoy delivered a letter from leader Kim Jong Un to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday and told him that Pyongyang would take steps to rejoin stalled nuclear disarmament talks, in an apparent victory for Beijing's efforts to coax its unruly ally into lowering tensions.

North Korean Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae's three-day visit was viewed as a fence-mending mission after Pyongyang angered Beijing with recent snubs and moves to develop its nuclear program. Choe returned to North Korea late Friday.

The official China News Service said Choe delivered the handwritten letter from Kim to Xi at an afternoon meeting at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing. It gave no details about the letter's contents.

North Korea is willing to work with all sides to “appropriately resolve the relevant questions through the six-party talks and other forms,” Choe was quoted as saying by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. He said Pyongyang was “willing to take active measures in this regard.”

Choe offered no details on how North Korea plans to resume talks. North Korea walked away from the six-party nuclear disarmament talks in 2009 over disagreements on how to verify steps the North was meant to take to end its nuclear programs.

Foreign observers often claim that North Korea has a history of raising tensions in an attempt to push its adversaries to negotiations meant to win aid.

Since its third nuclear test, in February, North Korea has repeatedly said that any future diplomatic talks would have to recognize it as a nuclear power.

That's at odds with the basis of the six-party talks and puts Pyongyang at loggerheads with Washington, which says it won't accept North Korea as an atomic power and demands that talks be based on past commitments by the North to abandon its nuclear programs.

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