South Korea welcomed remarks by North Korea's leader that indicated he was committed to ending his nuclear program, and urged the communist regime Wednesday to resume reconciliation talks.
The reclusive Kim Jong Il told visiting Chinese envoy Wang Jiarui on Friday that Pyongyang was "dedicated to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" and that he wanted to move international nuclear talks forward, according to Beijing's Xinhua News Agency.
The comment suggests North Korea has not given up on multinational talks on its nuclear programs, though the process has been stalled over a disagreement with the United States over how to verify the North's past nuclear activities. The six-nation talks involve the two Koreas, Russia, the United States, Japan and host China.
"We assess this positively," South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon said.
The spokesman also urged the North to resume dialogue with South Korea to defuse tensions on the peninsula.