China hopes to revive stalled negotiations on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program within the next few months, an official newspaper reported on Friday.
The comment from Beijing's envoy to the six-country talks follows a flurry of diplomatic efforts in recent weeks to prod North Korea into rejoining the negotiations. Envoys held a number of bilateral meetings aimed at restarting the process that has been stalled since last year.
"China's goal is to restart the six-party talks in the first half of this year. That's our expectation, but it is difficult to say if this will be realized," envoy Wu Dawei was quoted as saying by the official China Daily newspaper.
China hosts the six-nation talks, which also include the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Russia.
Communist North Korea, believed to have enough weaponized plutonium to make at least a half-dozen atomic bombs, walked away from negotiations in anger over international condemnation of a long-range rocket launch. It also conducted a nuclear test, earning stricter U.N. sanctions.
The North has demanded a lifting of the sanctions and peace talks with the U.S. on formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War before it returns to the negotiations.