US and Chinese officials held meetings about North Korea on Tuesday amid signs Pyongyang may be willing to restart talks on its nuclear programs.
The discussions come ahead of a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Pyongyang next week that could see North Korea rejoining six-nation talks on dismantling its nuclear programs in return for economic and diplomatic incentives.
US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Washington's point man on North Korea, met Tuesday morning with Gen. Ma Xiaotian, one of the Chinese military's top officials for international affairs, and was scheduled to talk later in the day with senior foreign policy adviser Dai Bingguo and Vice President Xi Jinping.
North Korea's program to construct a nuclear arsenal is considered the key threat to security in northeast Asia, but has also offered an opportunity for unprecedented diplomatic cooperation between Washington and Beijing.
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