Chinese President Hu Jintao has arrived in North Korea for a rare visit expected to focus on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.
Mr Hu was given an elaborate welcome
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il "warmly greeted" Mr Hu at the airport, according to state news agency KCNA.
Mr Hu wants to build on last month's outline agreement under which the North pledged to give up nuclear weapons in return for aid and security guarantees.
China, as the North's major aid donor, is thought to bear some influence.
It is the first time China's most senior leader has visited North Korea since 2001.
He was greeted by thousands of North Koreans who staged a carefully choreographed welcome as his motorcade headed into the capital Pyongyang.
Mr Hu is accompanied by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and other officials, China's Xinhua news agency said. Few other details of the visit were given.
Mr Li is reported to have talked by phone to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before travelling to Pyongyang.
N KOREA OUTLINE AGREEMENT
N Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and programmes
N Korea to return to nuclear treaty and UN monitoring
US states it has no intention of attacking N Korea
N Korea says it has right to "peaceful uses of nuclear energy"
N Korea's demand for light water reactor to be discussed at "appropriate time"
The US is keen to make progress on the agreement forged in September, as part of an ongoing process of six-nation talks, which set out the broad principles for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
In return, the North was assured of aid and electricity, and the US stated it had no intention of attacking.
But the detail and timing of the deal are yet to be agreed.
Shortly after the outline agreement was announced, the North insisted it be given a light water nuclear reactor before it gave up its nuclear programme, a condition the US has refused to accept.
Expanding on this demand, a North Korean diplomat told South Korea's Yonhap news agency on Thursday that the North would not even give details of its nuclear programme until a light water reactor had been built for it.
Light water reactors are much more difficult to use as a source of plutonium with which to build nuclear weapons.
But building one would be costly and take several years.
Ahead of Mr Hu's three-day trip, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said China expected the six-nation talks - involving Russia, China, Japan, the US, South and North Korea - to resume in early November.
Mr Kim reportedly assured Mr Hu that North Korea would attend the next round.
The nuclear dispute with Pyongyang began in late 2002, when the US accused North Korea of having a uranium-based nuclear arms programme, in violation of international agreements.
After visiting North Korea, Mr Hu is due to visit Vietnam to discuss bilateral ties and economic development.