Amid a new crisis triggered by a series of missile tests by North Korea, China will send a senior leader to Pyongyang to impress upon the Stalinist regime there to return to the six-party negotiations.
Chinese Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu will visit Pyongyang next Monday, apparently to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the treaty of friendship between China and North Korea.
Diplomatic sources said Hui is expected to meet top North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and other senior officials in Pyongyang and discuss the crisis in northeast Asia arising out of North Korea's test-firing of six missiles, including one reportedly capable of reaching the US mainland.
China, North Korea's closest ally, has not yet reacted to Pyongyang's missile tests.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu did not confirm on Tuesday whether Hui will discuss the stalled six- party talks, which also involves US, South Korea, Japan and Russia, during his six-day stay in Pyongyang.
Jiang said China was "making assiduous efforts" in pushing for a resumption of the talks, which aim to resolve the Korean Peninsula's nuclear standoff.
China has reportedly proposed an unofficial gathering of nuclear envoys from the six countries in the eastern city of Shenyang as a prelude to the next round of formal talks in Beijing. North Korea has not publicly commented on the idea.
Yu neither confirmed nor denied reports on the Chinese proposal for informal talks in the week of July 17, saying, "We are consulting with other parties to find a conducive way to push forward the process."
The six-nation nuclear talks have been stalled since last year; with North Korea insisting the US lift sanctions on its companies before they can resume.