An envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met
Chinese officials on Wednesday in the first such talks since Kim
succeeded his late father, Kim Jong Il, Chinese state media said.
Choe Ryong Hae, a military leader with close ties to the Kim family, met Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party's international department.
Diplomatic meetings between China and North Korea are normally conducted between the two ruling communist parties rather than government departments.
Choe was accompanied by Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Hyong Jun, a senior official from the ruling Korean Workers' Party and two military leaders, the official Korean Central News Agency said.
His visit came amid efforts by China, the United States and other nations to persuade North Korea to return to stalled multilateral negotiations on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.
The visit was the first to China by an envoy of the North Korean leader since Kim Jong Un took power after the death of his father in December 2011.
It was also the first trip to China by a senior North Korean official since a visit in August by Jang Song Taek, a vice-chairman of North Korea's National Defence Commission and Kim's uncle.
During Jang's trip, the two nations signed several trade deals and pledged to develop two border zones designed to help impoverished North Korea open its economy and earn foreign currency.
Jang's visit fuelled speculation that Kim might visit China and seek to reinvigorate North Korea's stalled economic reforms.
Those hopes appeared to be dashed in December when China, the US and the UN condemned North Korea's launch of a satellite on board a rocket, which critics saw as another test of Pyongyang's ballistic missile technology.
North Korea violated UN resolutions again in February with its third nuclear weapons test, prompting further sanctions by the Security Council.
Earlier this month, the state-run Bank of China closed accounts of the North Korean Foreign Trade Bank, which the US targeted for sanctions after linking it to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.
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