Chinese and North Korean defence chiefs have pledged to strengthen their military alliance -- dating back to the Korean War -- during talks in Pyongyang, state media said on Monday.
The move came after Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie arrived in North Korea for talks on Sunday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Liang told a reception by Pyongyang's defence chif Kim Yong-Chun that the bilateral relationship was "sealed in blood" when he and other Chinese troops fought the 1950-1953 Korean War on the North Koreans' side.
"No force on earth can break the unity of the armies and peoples of the two countries and it will last forever," Liang said, according to KCNA.
"It is the fixed stand of the Korean army and people to invariably consolidate and develop the DPRK (North Korea)-China friendship, which has stood all trials of history," Kim Yong-Chun said.
The defence chiefs then had "comradely and friendly" talks, according to the report.
KCNA said Liang arrived in Pyongyang by plane Sunday, inspected an honour guard, attended a fete, presented a gift for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, and met with Kim Yong-Chun, but gave no more details on his itinerary.
Chinese state media announced on Friday that Liang would be on a three-nation tour of North Korea, Japan and Thailand from Sunday to December 5.
The trip comes as Stephen Bosworth, US special representative for North Korean policy, is scheduled to visit the communist state on December 8 in order to persuade it to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
North Korea quit the talks in April, a month before it tested a second atomic weapon. Pyongyang said last month it was ready to return to the talks, but only if bilateral meetings with the US make progress.
The six-nation talks, which began more than six years ago, group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.
China has hosted the talks since 2003.