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In a meeting Oct. 5 with visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed his country’s “readiness” to hold multilateral talks, including the six-party talks on ending the North’s nuclear ambitions, “depending on the outcome” of bilateral talks with the United States. He also said that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was the dying instruction of his late father and founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung.

Mr. Kim’s latest statement goes further than the one he made in September when Mr. Wen’s special envoy Dai Bingguo visited Pyongyang. At that time, Mr. Kim expressed his willingness to resolve the problems related to the Peninsula’s denuclearization through bilateral and multilateral talks, without mentioning the six-party talks. There was no guarantee that North Korea would immediately return to the six-party talks, but Mr. Kim’s remarks indicate a greater possibility of that occurring.

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