China to persuade NKorea to give up nuclear weapons program

China's President Hu Jintao will visit North Korea next week, amid international efforts to convince the isolated country to stop developing nuclear weapons, the Chinese government announced Friday. Hu will begin a three-day trip to North Korea next Friday before visiting Vietnam Oct. 31-Nov.2, China Central Television said.

China is North Korea's last major ally and a key supplier of food and energy aid.

Hu was invited to the North by its leader, Kim Jong Il, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Kim, who rarely ventures out of his country, last visited Beijing in April 2004 amid tight secrecy.

China hosted international disarmament talks that last month produced an agreement by Pyongyang to give up all nuclear programs in exchange for security guarantees and energy assistance, the AP reports.

However, North Korea has demanded that it be given a nuclear reactor for power generation before it dismantles its atomic projects.

China last week congratulated North Korea on the 60th anniversary of its ruling communist party and promised closer cooperation.

A telegram from Hu at the time said Chinese-North Korean relations were a "precious treasure" that should be developed. China's Vice Premier Wu Yi and Commerce Minister Bo Xilai were in Pyongyang to participate in the anniversary celebrations.

Hu's telegram praised Kim's leadership and said stronger ties would help to maintain regional peace and stability.