US Secretary of State John Kerry presses China on North Korea, South China Sea

Beijing, Jan 27: US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Wednesday for China to do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear activities and decrease tensions over disputed parts of the South China Sea.

Wrapping up an eight-day, around-the-world diplomatic mission in Beijing, Kerry hailed US-China cooperation on several issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and climate change, but said consensus on North Korea and the South China Sea remained a work in progress.

US Secretary of State John Kerry

"Clearly we have several important issues that we need to find the way forward on," Kerry told reporters as he began his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Kerry called North Korea "a major challenge to global security" and noted US "concerns and activities in the South China Sea."

"We have proven ... when our two countries find common ground and work together, we can make things happen," he said. "And it is my hope that today will be constructive and we will find a way forward."

In his opening remarks, Wang mentioned both issues briefly and said he was eager to hear what Kerry had to say. But he offered no hint as to whether China would respond to the entreaties beyond saying he hoped the two nations would be able "to deepen our understanding and mutual trust to deepen our strategic cooperation."

The US badly wants China to take a firmer stance in urging North Korea to end its nuclear testing. China is North Korea's main link to the outside world, and American officials say Beijing isn't doing enough to persuade North Korea to stop the tests and return to disarmament talks.

The so-called six-party talks between the North and South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan have been stalled since they were last held in December 2008.

Pyongyang has since conducted three nuclear tests, including the latest on January 6, sparking worries the country has made progress in its bomb program. Kerry, who after meeting with Wang was set to see State Councilor Yang Jiechi and hoped to meet later with President Xi Jinping, also called on China to halt land reclamation and construction in disputed areas of the South China Sea, which have alarmed its smaller neighbors.

Kerry arrived in China from stops in Laos and Cambodia, where he called on the two members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to present a united front in dealing with increasing Chinese assertiveness over the South China Sea claims.


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