North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, arrived in Beijing on Saturday, en route to Indonesia to attend a regional conference where he could hold a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a diplomatic source said.
Kim, the head of North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament, is among leaders, including Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who are expected to attend next week's Asian-African Conference in Indonesia.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin has hinted that Kim and Xi could hold a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the conference in Indonesia.
Asked about a possible bilateral meeting between Xi and Kim in Indonesia, Liu replied on Friday, "Yes, on the sidelines of the Asian-African Conference and other commemorative events, President Xi will have some bilateral meetings.
"As for the bilateral arrangements, our discussions are still going on," Liu said, adding that no bilateral meeting has been fixed. "There won't be many bilateral meetings."
Political ties between North Korea and China remain strained because of the North's defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who is expected to visit Moscow next month, has yet to visit China since taking power more than three years ago. (Yonhap)