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China bid to end Korea standoff

Beijing, Jan. 14 (Reuters): China offered today to host talks between the US and North Korea over their nuclear standoff and Russia said it planned to send a top official to key capitals to help find a diplomatic solution.

As efforts to defuse the crisis speeded up, an Australian delegation flew to Pyongyang to discuss possible steps while senior US envoy James Kelly arrived in Beijing after talks in Seoul with South Korean leaders.

Earlier, North Korea reiterated a demand for bilateral talks with the US, a statement that appeared to hint that it, too, was looking to defuse the crisis after weeks of fiery anti-American rhetoric. Washington accuses Pyongyang of covertly developing nuclear weapons, a charge it denies.

“If the relevant sides are willing to hold dialogue in Beijing, I think we would have no difficulties with that,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said.

“We hope the US and North Korea can resume dialogue swiftly because we think that talks are the most effective channel for resolving this problem,” she said. China has taken a relatively balanced approach to the nuclear dilemma.

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