China said Tuesday it had held "frank" talks with North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, after Pyongyang announced it had invited UN inspectors to monitor a nuclear deal with the United States.
A government statement said Wu Dawei, China's envoy for the Korean nuclear dispute, and Ri Yong-Ho had a "frank and in-depth exchange of opinions on how to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula" in Beijing on Monday.
It was the second time the two sides have met since North Korea announced on Friday that it would launch a rocket carrying a satellite next month, indicating the level of concern over the plan in Beijing.
Within hours of that announcement, Chinese vice foreign minister Zhang Zhijun met Pyongyang's ambassador to China to express Beijing's worries and to urge restraint, according to an earlier government statement.
Next month's planned launch, which will violate a United Nations resolution, has sparked widespread complaints that the communist state is testing long-range missile technology which could one day deliver a nuclear warhead.
The announcement came just 16 days after Pyongyang agreed to suspend long-range missile tests in return for the US food aid -- a deal North Korea has insisted remains in force.
Washington says any launch would breach a deal announced on February 29, which offered substantial US food aid for a partial nuclear freeze.
The North, which came under new leadership in December under the young and untested Kim Jong-Un, insists otherwise.
"The satellite launch is one thing and the DPRK-US agreement is another," its negotiator Ri said late Monday in Beijing, using the North's full name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The deal raised modest hopes of progress in decades-long efforts to curb the North's nuclear weapons drive, including long-stalled six-party talks on disarmament that are chaired by China.