Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang told North Korea’s premier yesterday that it is in the North’s interests to have better ties with the U.S. and South Korea, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Li, in Pyongyang on what Xinhua said was a “goodwill” visit, held talks with North Korean Premier Choe Yong Rim focused on bilateral ties between the two countries. North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that Li passed on an invitation for top leader Kim Jong Il to visit China. Kim has made at least three trips to China since the beginning of 2010.
Li, 56, who is in line to become China’s next premier starting in March, 2013, is the latest in a procession of members from China’s ruling Communist Party Politburo to visit North Korea in the past two years. China has been pushing to restart six-nation talks focused on Korean denuclearization that fell apart in 2009 following a North Korean rocket test.
Li told Choe that China was ready to “promote the sound and steady development of bilateral ties” and called for a restart of the talks at “an early date,” Xinhua said.
China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner and its key ally. China exported $2.08 billion worth of goods to North Korea in the first eight months of this year, a 54 percent gain from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs figures. The two countries have been allies for more than six decades since Chinese troops fought on the North’s side during the 1950-53 Korean War.
China has maintained political relations with North Korea as it trades with South Korea and the U.S. China’s exports to South Korea totaled $62.1 billion in the first nine months of the year and its shipments to the U.S. totaled $235.7 billion during the same period, according to China’s customs administration.
--Michael Forsythe. Editors: Patrick Harrington, Nicholas Wadhams
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