A North Korean military delegation led by a confidant of leader Kim Jong-Il is visiting China, state media said on Tuesday, amid efforts to lure the North back to nuclear disarmament talks.
The delegation is led by vice defence minister Pak Jae-Gyong, the official Korean Central News Agency said, without disclosing further details.
Kim last week reportedly told China's visiting presidential envoy Dai Bingguo that he is willing to engage in bilateral and multilateral talks on his nuclear programme.
The North quit long-running six-nation disarmament talks chaired by China in April and staged its second nuclear test the following month. It wants direct talks with the United States to end the nuclear standoff.
Washington has said it is prepared to talk directly with Pyongyang, but only as a way of bringing it back to the six-party forum. Since August the North has made a series of peace overtures.
It freed two US journalists following a visit by ex-president Bill Clinton, released five South Korean detainees, eased curbs on a joint industrial estate in the North, and sent envoys for talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.
However, it also announced that an experimental enriched uranium programme -- a second way to make nuclear weapons -- was almost complete.