The Bush administration is claiming a positive start to its effort to put diplomatic pressure on North Korea to abandon its newly acknowledged nuclear weapons program. Two senior U.S. diplomats held talks with Chinese officials Friday in Beijing.

Beijing was the first stop for the U.S. team, given China's close political and economic links with North Korea. Undersecretary of State for arms control John Bolton, and Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs James Kelly had what were described as "very useful and productive" talks with senior Chinese officials.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says China is sympathetic to U.S. concerns about North Korea's nuclear ambitions. "We think the Chinese government shares our concern about the possible introduction of nuclear weapons into the Korean peninsula," said Richard Boucher. "We hope to proceed on the basis of that shared concern and will continue our consultations with China."

President Bush, who aides say is committed to finding a peaceful way to get North Korea to end its nuclear program, will take up the issue with Chinese President Ziang Zemin next Friday in Texas. Mr. Bolton holds talks next week in Russia and Western Europe, while Assistant Secretary Kelly consults leaders in South Korea and Japan.