A senior Chinese Communist Party official has held talks in North Korea, joining a flurry of diplomats trying to woo the isolated state back into talks on its nuclear weapons programme.
But North Korea, which this week said it had nuclear bombs, showed no signs of budging, stressing that conditions were not right to resume six-party negotiations involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.
Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party's international liaison department on Saturday held talks in Pyongyang with Kim Yong-nam, president of Communist North Korea's Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, China's Xinhua news agency said.
"The two sides exchanged views on bilateral relations and inter-party contacts, as well as regional and global issues of common concern," Xinhua said.
Not much hope
Before leaving for North Korea, Wang said the fate of the stalled talks would be up for discussion.
China said this week it was committed to the six-party process and that putting pressure on the North was not a solution.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei said he did not hold out much hope of a quick return to the talks.
Bush considered North Korea as
part of "axis of evil"
"It is unlikely the six-party talks will be resumed in the near future," he told state television. "But all parties concerned, including China, are conducting consultations with each other positively."
China is reclusive North Korea's closest friend and US officials, while grateful to Beijing for already having brought it to the negotiating table three times, have faulted the Chinese for failing to exert more influence.
North Korea, described by US President George Bush as part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and pre-war Iraq, said for the first time last week it had nuclear weapons, arguing it needed them to deter a hostile United States.
It announced it was pulling out of the talks in what analysts said could be a tactic to win concessions at a time when attention is focused on Iran's nuclear programmes.
US 'hostile policy'
North Korea said on Saturday there was also no justification for one-to-one talks with the United States - something it had previously requested.
"Because the United States insists on its hostile policy towards the DPRK (North Korea) and refused to co-exist with the DPRK ... the DPRK has no justification to take bilateral talks by one-to-one on the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula with the United States now," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.
He reiterated North Korea's suspension of involvement in the six-party talks "for an indefinite period" but said its policy of solving the nuclear issue through dialogue remained unchanged.