A senior Chinese official in charge of the Communist Party's external relations arrived in Pyongyang on Monday for talks with his North Korean counterpart.
Wang Jiarui and Kim Yong-il "briefed each other on their party's activities, and exchanged views on matters of mutual concern to further strengthen and develop the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and the two parties," the North's official KCNA news agency said.
Also on hand were Kim Song-nam, the deputy director of the North's International Affairs Department, and China's Ambassador to Pyongyang Liu Hongcai.
Earlier on July 24-28, the North's Minister of Public Security Ri Myong-su met with his Chinese counterpart Meng Jianzhu and Politburo member Zhou Yongkang in Beijing.
Ri last Thursday went to Jiangsu Province, where he met with Luo Zhijun, the secretary of the provincial committee. Both North Korean regime founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il had visited the province.
There is widespread speculation here that the visits are a prelude to a trip to China by new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"Kim Jong-il would normally visit China a few months after the chiefs of public security and international affairs of the two countries met," a diplomatic source recalled. "So this could be preparations for Kim Jong-un's visit to Beijing."
A Unification Ministry official said, "When Kim Jong-il was alive, Wang used to meet with him whenever he visited Pyongyang. It's highly likely that he will meet Kim Jong-un this time, too."