North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, where he will likely brief Chinese President Xi Jinping on his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump last week, as Washington and Seoul agreed to suspend a major joint military exercise.
This is Kim's third trip to China this year, coming a week after he met Trump in Singapore for historic talks.
Trump agreed to work with Kim toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, committed to provide the North's regime with security guarantees and pledged to end "war games," which Pyongyang and Beijing have long seen as provocative.
South Korea and the Pentagon announced they would halt the annual Freedom Guardian military drill scheduled for August.
In an unusual move, Chinese state media announced Kim's visit and said he would stay for two days. Previously China would only confirm Kim had visited after he had left the country.
"We hope this visit can help to further deepen China-North Korea relations, strengthen strategic communication between both countries on important issues and promote regional peace and stability," China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing. He did not elaborate.
A Kim trip to China to discuss his summit with Trump had been widely anticipated in diplomatic circles. China is North Korea's most important diplomatic and economic backer but has been angered by its nuclear and missile tests.
Police tightened security along Beijing's main Changan Avenue, which leads to the Great Hall of the People where Chinese leaders usually meet visiting heads of state, and also outside the Diaoyutai State Guest House, where Kim stayed with his wife during a visit in March.
Outside the east gate of the Great Hall, where foreign leaders are officially welcomed, authorities had erected a screen running the full length of the road, cutting off the view.
South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman said South Korea and China shared the strategic goal of completely denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
"Our government hopes China will play a constructive role in resolving this problem," ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-deok told a regular briefing.
"We hope Chairman Kim Jong Un's visit will contribute to that."