North Korea has asked China to arrange a visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Japanese newspaper said, but Japan's top
government spokesman said Washington had denied the report. The report, which cited unidentified diplomatic sources, did not say what response Rice
Nearly a year after the last round of six-country talks on North Korea's nuclear arms program, concerns are rising that Pyongyang may conduct an
underground test of a nuclear device.
The Nihon Keizai financial daily said Tuesday that North Korea's proposal was conveyed to Rice by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing during a
telephone conversation on May 13.
The report, which cited unidentified diplomatic sources, did not say what response Rice had given.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a news conference that the State Department had denied the report.
"There are people who want the United States and North Korea to have direct dialogue, but we think that the right course is to discuss (it) in the
six-way talks," Hosoda added.
Private broadcaster TV Tokyo later reported that a "U.S. diplomatic group" could travel to Pyongyang soon to prepare for a trip by Rice, although a
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Beijing said she had no information on such a plan.
The United States has repeatedly rejected the idea of holding bilateral talks with Pyongyang outside the six-party framework.
South Korean Foreign Ministry officials said they had no information suggesting Rice might go to Pyongyang.
"It would seem a little far-fetched to say Rice would visit Pyongyang at this point," one of the officials said.
But some analysts said pressure was mounting from other participants for Washington to open some form of dialogue.
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So what is going to happen next? Have they found a diplomatic solution to the crisis? Is North Korea just pulling our legs? What do you think is
North Korea has always wanted to bring the U.S. into bilateral meetings again, something that we don't want to do after they broke the bilateral
agreements signed by the Clinton administration. By keeping the six-way talks, we figure that if NK breaks any agreement reached there, they'll also
be breaking an agreement with China etc., not just us.
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