North Korea and China agreed to strengthen economic cooperation during talks between their prime ministers in Beijing, China's state news agency reported Tuesday.
The North's Premier Choe Yong-rim and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao "pledged to promote trade, investment and economic cooperation" between the nations during a meeting held on Monday night during Choe's official visit to China, Xinhua news agency said.
"Under the context of the complicated regional and international situation, the parties, governments and peoples of China and the DPRK (North Korea)...made joint efforts to push forward bilateral ties," Xinhua quoted Wen as telling Choe during the talks.
Wen hailed the North's achievements in developing its economy and vowed that Beijing will continue to offer assistance within its capability, according to the report.
He then called on the two sides to speed up mutually beneficial cooperation in fields such as trade, investment, infrastructure, natural resources and agriculture, the report said.
On the situation in the Korean Peninsula, Wen said China hopes that all sides can maintain contact and dialogue, improve relations and resume the six-party talks soon.
In response, Choe said Pyongyang has insisted on the denuclearization of the peninsula via dialogue and consultation and proposed the resumption of talks without preconditions.
The North will maintain contact with Beijing on that issue, the official said.
The six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia have been dormant since Pyongyang quit in April 2009 and conducted its second nuclear test a month later. The North's military attacks on South Korea last year, together with its revelation of a uranium enrichment program, have created new hurdles for regional powers trying to reopen the six-nation talks.
After raising tensions, the North has expressed its willingness in recent months to return to the talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear program in exchange for economic assistance.
Choe also said Pyongyang will deepen cooperation with China in trade and infrastructure, and welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest and operate in the country.
The North Korean premier arrived in Beijing on Monday for an official goodwill trip, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that day.
During the five-day trip, Choe is expected to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and make a series of visits to Shanghai, Nanjing and Yangzhou.
He was accompanied by Vice Premier Ro Tu-chol and several economic officials, the KCNA reported from Beijing.
The visit comes a month after North Korean leader Kim Jong-il toured the northeast of China on his way home from a rare trip to Russia.
In May, Kim also traveled across China and met with Hu to discuss expanding bilateral economic and political relations.
China is the North's last remaining ally, as well as its key economic benefactor and diplomatic supporter.