N. Korean leader seeks to settle nuclear dispute

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il said he wants a peaceful settlement of the dispute over his country's nuclear program as he wrapped up a visit to China amid a flurry of diplomacy aimed at restarting disarmament talks. Immediately after Kim's departure on Wednesday, the US envoy to the six-nation talks made a surprise visit to Beijing that reportedly included a meeting with his North Korean counterpart, though neither side released any details. There was no immediate indication that Kim promised to return to the talks, despite prodding from Chinese President Hu Jintao, who called the negotiations the "correct choice" for resolving the dispute. Kim told Hu that North Korea was committed to a joint statement issued at talks in September and "pursuing a negotiated peaceful settlement," the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported. In the September statement, the North promised to give up nuclear development in exchange for aid and a security guarantee. The nuclear talks, begun in 2003, have been stalled since November over North Korea's anger at what it calls hostile US policies. The other participants are South Korea, Japan and Russia.