Washington's top diplomat for Asia has arrived in Beijing for talks on North Korea's nuclear program and next week's summit meeting in the United States.

Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly slipped quietly into China Thursday without the usual notice to the press.

Embassy officials confirm that North Korea is one item on his agenda for talks with Chinese officials, but gave few details.

Mr. Kelly is the person who confronted North Korean officials with evidence that work continued on their nuclear weapons program, even though Pyongyang had promised stop development in a 1994 agreement. The North Koreans then confirmed that the work had been going on.

China is North Korea's next-door neighbor, and one of the few friends the erratic regime has.

China's Foreign Ministry says it supports a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and expressed the hope that the tensions over the nuclear weapons development can be resolved peacefully.