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China invites NKorea's Kim to visit

AFP | August 24 2006

China has reportedly invited North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to visit "as soon as possible" amid reports that Pyongyang is preparing for a nuclear bomb test, South Korean media said.

Beijing "has asked Kim to visit China as soon as possible, as it believes such a visit will help resolve problems" related to North Korea's July missile tests, Yonhap news agency said, quoting a "North Korea watcher" in China.

"The government hopes the visit will take place within this year," the unnamed source added, according to Yonhap.

North Korea, which says it has developed nuclear weapons, test-fired seven missiles on July 5, drawing the anger of the international community and criticism from the UN Security Council.

South Korea has stepped up monitoring of North Korea's nuclear activities after the US television network ABC reported last week, citing US officials, that North Korea may be preparing to conduct an underground nuclear bomb test.

The United States and South Korea -- both parties to stalled six-way nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea, along with China, Japan and Russia -- have both warned North Korea against any nuclear testing.

US President George W. Bush said Monday he had pressed Chinese President Hu Jintao to keep up pressure on Kim to end his country's nuclear weapons drive.

"I talked to Hu Jintao this morning about the six-party talks and about the need for us to continue to work together to send a clear message to the North Korean leader that there is a better choice for him than to continue to develop a nuclear weapon," Bush told reporters.

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