• Kyodo News

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Foreign Minister Taro Aso and his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing agreed Monday to continue working together on persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Japanese officials said.

Aso told Li by telephone he hopes China will play a role in changing North Korea’s attitude so progress can be made in the deadlocked six-party talks.

Li pledged that China would coordinate with Japan on the issue, they said.

Aso told Li that North Korea must change the intransigent attitude it showed in the latest round of talks last week in Beijing.

Pyongyang insisted that the U.S. lift financial sanctions before it would discuss its nuclear weapons. Some delegates said North Korea’s attempt to tie the nuclear issue to the U.S. sanctions was blocking progress at the talks. Washington imposed sanctions against a Macau-based bank for allegedly laundering money and passing counterfeit currency on behalf of North Korea, wrongdoing the bank last week reportedly effectively owned up to.

The multilateral discussions were put on hold Friday after five days of talks that failed to make tangible progress toward their goal of keeping nuclear weapons off the Korean Peninsula.

The U.S. sanctions were imposed on Banco Delta Asia.

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