CHINA is still unwilling to play an active role in resolving the North Korean nuclear weapons crisis, United Nations Secretary-General Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali said yesterday. Dr Boutros-Ghali, speaking after two days of talks in Beijing with Chinese Government leaders, said China had agreed to play a support role but was unlikely to engage in direct negotiations with North Korea to try to resolve the issue, regarded by many observers as a threat to regional security. There are currently three channels of negotiation on the nuclear issue - between North Korea and the United States, the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) and South Korea - but Dr Boutros-Ghali said he did not think China would consider openinga fourth channel. China was furthermore opposed to imposing sanctions on North Korea in an attempt force the regime to allow a full inspection of its nuclear facilities by the IAEA, he said. ''The Chinese Government does not believe pressure will help solve the problem. They believe that more dialogue, more negotiation and more persuasion is the way to find a solution to the problem,'' Dr Boutros-Ghali said. The UN chief said he had not asked China to play a more active role in the crisis but had simply briefed Prime Minister Li Peng and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen on his seven days of talks in Pyongyang and Seoul. ''I received their support for my mission and the hope that we will be able to find a peaceful solution,'' he said. China, which enjoyed relations ''as close as lips and teeth'' with North Korea in the 1950s and 1960s, has been backing away from the Pyongyang regime in recent years and has so far failed to offer any economic assistance to help alleviate North Korea's professed economic crisis. The nuclear crisis began when North Korea refused inspections by the IAEA, a UN body, of two sites that the United States believes are being used to develop nuclear arms. In March Pyongyang decided to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). After holding high-level talks with the US in June, North Korea agreed to freeze the decision but, despite a second round of talks in July, it has yet to return to the NPT. China, a longtime ally of Pyongyang and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council with the power of veto, has long counselled patience in dealing with North Korea. Although China is very concerned at the nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula, analysts say it does not want to get directly involved because this would undermine its position on non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. Dr Boutros-Ghali, whose Asian tour took him to Japan, the two Koreas and China, said he believed there was the political will on the part of all the major parties involved to solve the crisis, but could not predict when a solution might be forthcoming. The purpose of his ''personal goodwill mission'' in Asia, he said, was to encourage all parties to continue with their negotiations so as to find a peaceful solution. During his three-day trip to North Korea Dr Boutros-Ghali said he was unable to ascertain whether, as Washington has claimed, North Korea already had a nuclear weapons capability: ''I'm afraid I cannot answer that question because I am not a military expert.'' His talks with North Korean President Kim Il-sung yielded little more than a vague promise to continue talks on the issues of nuclear proliferation and reunification with the South. Despite the lack of any concrete progress during his visit to northeast Asia, Dr Boutros-Ghali denied the United Nations was being left out in the cold on the North Korean nuclear problem, saying that the UN was already overburdened with international problems and welcomed any initiatives to solve disputes outside the framework of the UN. Meanwhile, South Korean Foreign Minister Han Sung-joo yesterday denied claims that North Korea had agreed to open its suspected nuclear plants to outside inspection. ''The reports that the North has agreed to fully accept the IAEA's regular and ad hoc nuclear inspections are not true,'' Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying.