Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was greeted at Pyongyang airport by the North Korean leader
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has made a rare appearance to greet visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, ahead of talks on nuclear issues.
During his three-day visit, Mr Wen is expected to urge the North to resume international negotiations.
North Korea withdrew from six-party talks in April and conducted a nuclear test in May, raising regional tensions.
After arriving in Pyongyang on Sunday, Mr Wen began talks with Prime Minister Kim Yong-il.
It was wrongly reported earlier that he had held discussions with the North Korean leader himself - who only came to the airport to greet Mr Wen.
Correspondents say Mr Kim has been suffering from a serious illness and rarely greets visiting dignitaries, so this appearance is an indication of how seriously North Korea takes its relationship with China.
China's foreign minister and Beijing's delegate to the six-party talks are accompanying Mr Wen on what state media called the "goodwill visit".
Oct 2006 - North Korea conducts an underground nuclear test
Feb 2007 - North Korea agrees to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid
June 2007 - North Korea shuts its main Yongbyon reactor
June 2008 - North Korea makes its long-awaited declaration of nuclear assets
Oct 2008 - The US removes North Korea from its list of countries which sponsor terrorism
Dec 2008 - Pyongyang slows work to dismantle its nuclear programme after a US decision to suspend energy aid
Jan 2009 - The North says it is scrapping all military and political deals with the South, accusing it of "hostile intent"
April 2009 - Pyongyang launches a rocket carrying what it says is a communications satellite
25 May 2009 - North Korea conducts a second nuclear test
Video footage of Mr Wen's arrival showed a welcome ceremony and him leaving the airport in a limousine motorcade.
China hosts the six-party talks, which also involve the US, South Korea, Japan and Russia.
It is North Korea's biggest trading partner and holds the greatest sway over the communist regime - which has in recent weeks indicated it could resume stalled talks.
Last month, Chinese state media reported that Mr Kim had told a visiting Chinese envoy he was willing to hold dialogue on the nuclear issue and "resolve the relevant problems through bilateral and multilateral talks".
Pyongyang has long sought direct talks with the US - which had until recently said negotiation should be via the six-party structure.
Washington now appears to have modified its stance on bilateral talks somewhat in the hope of bringing North Korea back to the multilateral forum.
North Korea agreed in February 2007 to abandon its nuclear programme in return for aid and political concessions
It shut down its main reactor at Yongbyon in June 2007, but talks then became deadlocked over the issue of how its declaration of nuclear assets could be verified by its negotiating partners.
Pyongyang then grew more belligerent, carrying out what its neighbours believe was a long-range missile test and then its second nuclear test.
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