N. Korea No. 2 in China for Nuke Talks

North Korea's (search) No. 2 leader arrived in Beijing Monday for a visit that a state newspaper said Chinese leaders were expected to use to press the North to resume stalled six-nation talks on the dispute over its nuclear program.

Kim Yong Nam (search), greeted by Chinese officials and an honor guard on his arrival at the Beijing airport, was scheduled to hold talks with President Hu Jintao (search) and other Chinese leaders.

China's effort to arrange new talks on the nuclear dispute "is expected to be one of the most important" topics on the agenda, the China Daily newspaper said without elaborating.

Government spokesmen have refused to release any details of the talks.

Participants in the nuclear negotiations missed a self-imposed September deadline to hold a fourth round after the North refused to attend, and it appears increasingly unlikely they will take place before the U.S. presidential election in November. The other governments taking part are host China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

Washington wants the North to halt nuclear activities immediately and allow international inspections. South Korea and Japan have offered to provide fuel oil to the impoverished North as an incentive.

Kim's visit comes amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts to restart the talks.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to visit Japan, China and South Korea next weekend in a possible attempt to arrange a new round of talks.

China's ambassador for the nuclear dispute, Ning Fukui, visited South Korea last week to discuss ways to restart the talks. He later traveled to Washington, where he met senior U.S. officials.

Kim is head of the Presidium of North Korea's parliament, second in line behind North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Kim Yong Nam acts as his country's ceremonial head of state.

China is North Korea's last major ally and biggest aid donor, but has told other governments that it has only limited influence over Kim Jong Il's isolated Stalinist dictatorship.

Also Monday, Kim Yong Nam toured a high-tech industrial district in Beijing.

China has hosted a series of such visits by Kim Jong Il and other North Korean leaders to study Chinese economic reforms in hopes that the North might try to revive its decrepit centrally planned economy by allowing similar changes.