China to send North Korea envoy to Washington

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will send its special envoy on North Korea to the United States next week for talks on maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

Wu Dawei will also discuss denuclearisation of the region, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing. He will visit at the invitation of Glyn Davies, Washington's special representative on North Korea, Hua said.

After weeks of threats of war by North Korea, Pyongyang said on Thursday it would return to negotiations subject to a list of conditions, including the lifting of UN sanctions. The United States said it was seeking "clear signals" that the North would halt its nuclear weapons activities.

China is North Korea's main diplomatic and financial backer and fought alongside the North in the 1950-53 Korean War.

But in recent months China has begun to express impatience with Pyongyang and its 30-year-old leader, Kim Jong-un, grandson of state founder Kim Il-Sung.

"The international community, including China, has to seriously reconsider what will be the more effective way to force North Korea not just to get back to negotiations, but force them to give up nuclear weapons,"

Zhu Feng of the China Institute of Strategic Studies at Peking University said.

"China also has to review the policy of North Korea and make clear that Beijing's policy of denuclearisation is not just rhetorically proclaimed but also can be very effectively pursued."