North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has told visiting Chinese officials that his country remains committed to denuclearization through six-nation talks, Chinese state media reported on Tuesday.

“The sincerity of relevant parties to resume the six-party talks is very important,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Mr. as telling Wang Jiarui, the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s international department.

Mr. Kim said in Pyongyang that North Korea was “willing to make efforts with China to further strengthen the communication and coordination” over the six-party negotiations on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

Meanwhile, an envoy of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived on Tuesday in Pyongyang and became the first high-ranking UN official to visit the communist country since 2004.

During his own visit, Mr. Wang gave Mr. Kim a letter from Chinese President Hu Jintao, saying that China wanted the two nations to “make joint efforts ... to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” the agency said.

Mr. Hu invited Mr. Kim to visit China, but the agency did not say if Mr. Kim accepted the invitation.

Pyongyang walked out of the six-way talks involving South Korea, North Korea, Russia, the United States, China and Japan in April, insisting that UN sanctions be lifted as a condition to returning to the negotiating table.

Lynn Pascoe, undersecretary general for political affairs at the United Nations, is to also discuss the resumption of denuclearization talks when he meets with North Korean officials.

The priority of the American’s mission, however, is to improve cooperation between North Korea and the world organization, Mr. Pascoe was quoted as saying by Xinhua on his arrival in Pyongyang.

Mr. Pascoe’s delegation is to be in North Korea for four days.

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