China on Monday stepped up diplomatic efforts to ease tension caused by North Korea's missile tests by sending a Vice Premier to Pyongyang.
A Chinese goodwill delegation, led by Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, left here for a six-day visit to North Korea, the closest ally of China.
Hui, also a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, will also attend activities marking the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between China and North Korea.
Hui's visit is at the invitation of the North Korean government, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Hui is expected to meet with top North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and urge him to return to the negotiating table of the six-party talks, stalled since last year.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Sunday talked with his 12 counterparts on the review by the United Nations Security Council on the test-firing of missiles by North Korea.
Li exchanged views on the issue in phone conversations with foreign ministers of eleven member countries of the UN Security Council and South Korea.
Li stressed that any action should be conducive to maintaining peace and stability in the region and the unity of the UN Security Council."
Li had discussed with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on UN's response to the missile tests by North Korea via telephone on Saturday.
Hill said the US Administration attached importance to the six-party talks and was willing to settle problems via diplomatic efforts.
The six-nation talks involve China, North Korea, the United States, South Korea, Russia and Japan.
The UN Security Council met last Wednesday for an emergency meeting to discuss North Korea's missile tests, which launched seven missiles.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said earlier that China hopes the UN response to the North Korean missile tests will be helpful in promoting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
China believes that instead of seeking sanctions against Pyongyang, the UN Security Council can best make a unanimous and firm response to North Korea's missile launch "through a statement that sends a strong message", China's permanent representative to the United Nations, Wang Guangya on Friday.
Japan presented a draft Security Council resolution on Friday last that seeks sanctions against North Korea.
The draft, co-sponsored by Britain, France and the United States, invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorises sanctions or even military action.