United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Chinese president Xi Jinping for talks on Wednesday, with North Korea and Syria expected to dominate discussions.

Ban met Xi in Beijing after visiting a centre which trains China's UN peacekeepers.

They shook hands and exchanged pleasantries at the start of the meeting briefly open to reporters in Beijing's ornate Great Hall of the People.

"The UN carries the expectations of people of all countries," Xi said, adding that China would continue to support the world body as well as Ban himself.

Ban congratulated Xi on last week's launch of China's latest manned space mission. He also wished Xi success "in the rejuvenation of your great nation and delivering a better life to all".

Ban's spokesman said Tuesday that the UN chief expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including the Korean peninsula and the situation in Syria and Mali.

Ban is also scheduled to meet China's Premier Li Keqiang and other officials, China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Also Wednesday, a high-ranking North Korean official with long experience as his country's international nuclear negotiator held talks with Chinese officials, Beijing's foreign ministry announced.

North Korean first vice foreign minister Kim Kye-Gwan and Chinese vice foreign minister Zhang Yesui co-chaired a "strategic dialogue" meeting between their ministries in the Chinese capital, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

The UN has spoken out against China's treatment of North Korean refugees, but North Korea's nuclear program is also a major UN concern.

UN diplomats also said that besides North Korea, the worsening Syrian conflict would top Ban's list of discussion topics in Beijing.

China has sided with Russia three times in using a veto against Western-proposed UN Security Council resolutions that would increase pressure on Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

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