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China Says N. Korea Seeks Economic Help, Nuclear Talks

A stretch limousine believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Il drives ahead of a convoy of cars traveling towards the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 25, 2011

China says North Korean leader Kim Jong Il wants to return to nuclear disarmament talks and says Kim has told Chinese leaders that Pyongyang also wants to focus on developing bilateral trade and fostering economic growth.

China's official Xinhua news agency reported the North Korean leader's comments hours after Kim departed Beijing at the end of a six-day official visit -- the third such trip this year and one touted as a bid by the North for more trade and economic help from Beijing.

Chinese news outlets say both leaders discussed the stalled six-nation negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Hu told Kim that all sides should "remain calm and restrained," show flexibility and make positive efforts to realize "peace, stability and development" on the Korean peninsula. No breakthroughs in the negotiations stalemate were reported.

Neither Beijing nor Pyongyang officially confirmed Kim's visit to China while he was in the country. South Korea's Yonhap news agency says Kim departed the Chinese capital Thursday aboard his heavily guarded special train and headed north, in the general direction of the North Korean border. Shortly before leaving the capital, the North Korean leader visited an information technology firm in Beijing’s Zhongguancun district.

China has used past visits by the secretive North Korean leader to urge him to return to nuclear negotiations aimed at ending the North's weapons program.

North Korea sent shockwaves through the region in 2006 and 2009 with nuclear tests that drew global protests and United Nations' sanctions backed by Beijing.

China is North Korea's only major ally and chief economic benefactor, and has urged Kim to enact reforms to revive North Korea's moribund economy, but his previous attempts were half-hearted and later abandoned.

Separately, a U.S. delegation is in North Korea to assess the country's food supply, which has dwindled amid international anger over its nuclear weapons program. The United Nations says more than one quarter of the North's population is in urgent need of food aid.