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Kim Yong-nam arrives in Beijing
Updated: 2004-10-18 13:44

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North Korea's second-most senior leader, Kim Yong-nam (3rd-L), is greeted by Chinese officials as he arrives at Beijing Internatonal Airport October 18, 2004. Kim flew to China's capital on Monday for a rare visit expected to focus on jump-starting stalled nuclear talks just days before U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell makes a trip to China. [Reuters]

North Korea's second-most senior leader, Kim Yong-nam, arrives at Beijing Internatonal Airport October 18, 2004. [Reuters]

A high-ranking North Korean delegation headed by the state's deputy leader has arrived in China amid faltering attempts to resolve the standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Kim Yong-Nam touched down at Beijing International Airport, where he was greeted by North Korean embassy staff, Chinese officials and a small honor guard, according to a journalist present at the scene.

Kim is on "an official goodwill visit" to Beijing at the invitation of China's legislature and Cabinet, Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

According to KCNA, Kim is accompanied by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong-Il, who previously headed the North Korean delegation at six-country talks on the nuclear issue in Beijing.

Also in Kim's delegation are Ri Ju-O, minister of light industry, and Kim Yong-Jae, vice-minister of foreign trade, according to KCNA.

Kim, North Korea's top legislator, is nominally the second most powerful man in the country, although the entire political system is built around the personal authority of supreme leader Kim Jong-Il.

On the first day of his three-day visit, Kim Yong-Nam is expected to visit a science park in the north of Beijing before having talks with his Chinese counterpart Wu Bangguo.

He will also meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

The invitation comes as Beijing is apparently stepping up efforts to salvage six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, including the dispatch of a senior official to Pyongyang last month, which bore little fruit.

After three rounds of inconclusive talks, Pyongyang failed to turn up for a fourth round of multilateral talks in Beijing last month.

North Korea has boycotted the talks to protest South Korea's controversial nuclear experiments and Washington's "hostile policy" toward Pyongyang.