Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is expected to discuss the vexed Korean nuclear issue with his North Korean counterpart Pak Bong Ju here today, diplomatic sources said.
Pak, who arrived here today for a six-day official good-will visit, will hold formal talks with Wen, call on Chinese President Hu Jintao and discuss bilateral issues, the Korean nuclear issue as well as other topics of common interest, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.
Pak's first visit to China after taking office in 2003 comes a day after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left Beijing, where she discussed ways to resume the stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programmes.
Rice stressed that the US had no intention of invading North Korea, but warned Pyongyang that it had to return to the six-party talk mechanism soon or Washington would explore "other means".
She also asked China to use its leverage on North Korea to bring it back to the negotiating table.
The six-party talks, involving China, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Russia and Japan are aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue. Three rounds of talks had been held in Beijing before it came to a standstill last September.
Pyongyang claimed on February 10 this year that it was compelled to suspend the six-party
Pak is scheduled to visit Shanghai, Shenyang and Anshan besides Beijing, Liu said, adding that the North Korean leader visited Finnish telecom giant, Nokia's Beijing office this morning.
At the briefing, Liu urged parties to the six-way talks to be patient and demonstrate flexibility and sincerity to create a favourable atmosphere for the resumption of talks on the North Korean nuclear issue.
Responding to Rice's comment calling for a more active Chinese role on the issue, he reiterated that Beijing would play its due role but it also required the cooperation of other parties to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.
He stressed that the six-way talk mechanism is the realistic way to achieve a non-nuclear Korean peninsula.
Just before Pak's arrival, North Korea warned that it had bolstered its nuclear arsenal to prevent an invasion. "We have taken a serious measure by increasing nuclear arms arsenal in preparation for any invasion by enemies," Yonhap, a South Korean news agency, quoted North Korea's Central Broadcasting Station as saying in a commentary last night. ;