"North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on Thursday met China's most senior foreign policy maker Dai Bingguo in Pyongyang," official media reported, amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula.
"The two sides reached consensus on bilateral relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula after candid and in-depth talks," said a brief report from China's Xinhua news agency, datelined Pyongyang.
The North's official news agency said, "only that the delegations discussed "issues of mutual concern" and efforts further to improve friendly relations."
It marked the first time that Kim has met a senior foreign official since the North's November 23 shelling of a South Korean border island.
The shock attack left four dead including two civilians, injured 18, wrecked 29 homes and triggered a regional crisis.
China is the isolated North's sole major ally and provides it with a crucial fuel and food lifeline.
Beijing has come under increasing pressure from the United States and US allies to rein in North Korea following the incident, which was the first shelling of civilian areas in South Korea since the 1950-53 war.
It has so far refused even to condemn the North for the attack.
On Wednesday, the top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, accused China of ducking its responsibility to keep Pyongyang in line, as he announced more joint military exercises with South Korea.
"The Chinese have enormous influence over the North, influence that no other nation on earth enjoys. And yet, despite a shared interest in reducing tensions, they appear unwilling to use it," Mullen said.
"Even tacit approval of Pyongyang's brazenness leaves all their neighbours asking what will be next," he added before heading for Japan for talks on defence cooperation.
US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg will lead a high-level delegation to Beijing next week to consult on developments on the Korean peninsula.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterparts from South Korea and Japan had held talks in Washington that ended with a call for China to step up and do more.