North Korean leader Kim Jong-II has expressed regret about his country's nuclear test and willingness to return to disarmament talks if the United States eases the pressure, a South Korean newspaper reported on Friday.
Chosun Ilbo, quoting an unidentified diplomatic source in China, said Kim made the remarks to a high-level Chinese delegation visiting Pyongyang this week.
"Chairman Kim conveyed his sorry feelings about the nuclear test," Chosun, the largest-circulation paper in South Korea, quoted the source as saying.
"If the United States makes concessions to some degree, so will we, be it either at the bilateral level or the six-party talks," Kim was quoted as saying when he met the delegation led by State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan on Thursday.
China said Tang, President Hu Jintao's special envoy, had delivered an important message from Hu to Kim during a "significant" mission.
It was the first time Kim is known to have met any foreigner since the October 9 nuclear test, which sparked international condemnation and sanctions against the impoverished communist state.
The United States and other nations have been pushing China, the North's only remaining major ally, to use its influence to curtail Kim's nuclear ambitions.
According to a South Korean official, the North gave China only about 20 minutes advance notice of the test.
Beijing -- which had invested much diplomatic capital hosting six-nation disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States -- reacted angrily and denounced the test as "brazen.