North Korea is asked for coming back to the negotiating table

U.S. Vice President &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Dick Cheney called on China to help advance stalled talks with North Korea regarding their aspirations to make nuclear weapons, tells the Bloomberg.

``China can have a huge impact here, because they've got more extensive economic relationships with the North than anybody else,'' Cheney said in a taped interview on CNN's ``Larry King Live,'' set to be shown tonight. ``It's incumbent upon them to be major players here.''

North Korea has refused to return to six-party talks with the U.S., South Korea, Russia, Japan and China without promises of economic aid and an assurance that the U.S. won't take any military action against it. North Korea has accused the U.S. of planning to attack since President George W. Bush, in his January 2002 state of the union address, called North Korea, Iran and Iraq an ``axis of evil.''

Cheney, 64, said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is ``one of the world's more irresponsible leaders'' and said he, ``obviously wants to throw his weight around and become a nuclear power.''

According to the New York Times, the United States warned its allies this month that the North might be preparing to test a nuclear weapon. Now senior officials say American intelligence agencies are still monitoring several locations in &to=http:// 20/91/366/10578_koreanuclear.html ' target=_blank>North Korea where a nuclear test might be held, though they readily concede the evidence that the North will proceed with a test is "partial."

Some officials say they doubt that North Korea's leaders are ready to risk galvanizing its neighbors against it by conducting a test and removing all ambiguity about claims that it has built nuclear weapons.

"It's a very tough calculus for the North Koreans," said one senior official.

In struggling to deal with the North's threats and its demands for concessions in return for coming back to the negotiating table, the Bush administration has sent a series of seemingly mixed messages. President Bush himself has repeatedly said he has no "intention" of attacking North Korea. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said several weeks ago that the United States recognized the North as a sovereign state.

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