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Rice meets with China s top leaders

BEIJING, June 30  – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with China’s top leaders in Beijing on Monday as part of a visit expected to focus on pushing forward six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme.

Rice, who arrived in the capital on Sunday after a short trip to quake-hit Sichuan province, passed on US President George W. Bush’s "wishes for the full and complete recovery of the (quake-hit) area" to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Hu in turn thanked Rice for her visit to Sichuan, which was hit by a 8.0-magnitude earthquake last month, killing nearly 70,000 people.

"This has fully demonstrated the warm feeling of the American people towards the Chinese people," he said.

Rice earlier told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that the United States would continue to help with reconstruction efforts, without giving further details.

"The United States will continue to help in any way it can with efforts at reconstruction," she told Wen.

"I remember the help we received (after Hurricane) Katrina, including from the Chinese government."

Her visit comes after North Korea handed in a key declaration outlining its nuclear activities on Thursday last week.

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The declaration, submitted nearly six months late, was part of a landmark six-party deal reached last year, in which North Korea agreed to disable nuclear plants at its Yongbyon facility in return for aid and diplomatic recognition.

The North also destroyed the cooling tower of its Yongbyon nuclear power plant that is being dismantled on Friday.

China is the host of the six-party talks which include the United States, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas.

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