China backs SKorea call to resume nuclear talks with North

The comments from South Korea's Lee Myung-Bak appeared to reflect a shift in position -- Lee has been tough with Pyongyang since the deadly shelling last month of a South Korean border island and cool on the idea of new negotiations.

China -- the host of the on-off talks which also include the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the United States -- has meanwhile constantly pushed for the forum to reconvene since Pyongyang stormed out in April 2009.

"We believe the six-party talks are the effective approach to realise denuclearisation on the peninsula and safeguard regional peace and stability," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

"We always believe that the South and the North should address issues and gradually improve relations through dialogue and consultation to realise reconciliation and cooperation," she said.

"Dialogue and negotiation is the only right approach to resolve peninsula-related issues and achieve enduring peace on the peninsula. We sincerely hope and support the two sides conduct good contact and dialogue."

On Wednesday, Lee said, "(We) have no choice but to resolve the problem of dismantling North Korea's nuclear programme diplomatically through the six-party talks."

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