March 1, 2012 / 12:40 AM / 5 years ago

China welcomes North Korea nuclear freeze

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Thursday welcomed North Korea's agreement to suspend atomic tests and uranium enrichment as part of a preliminary deal with the United States that could pave the way to fresh nuclear disarmament talks.

China is the host of the long delayed six-party disarmament talks, and its foreign ministry said that Beijing would keep working to restart them.

"China welcomes the improvement in relations between North Korea and the United States, and the contribution they have made towards protecting the peace and stability of the (Korean) peninsula," the foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement put on the ministry's website (www.mfa.gov.cn).

"China is willing to strive with all other concerned parties to continue advancing the six-party talks process, playing a constructive role in achieving the lasting peace and stability of the peninsula and of northeast Asia," he said.

The six-party disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia broke down in 2008, and United Nations nuclear inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009.

Reporting by Chris Buckley, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher

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