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US and China work together on North Korea

Meeting Chinese leaders in Beijing on Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the two countries were committed to finding a peaceful way to ensure a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi said that to "properly address the Korean nuclear issue serves the common interests of all parties," and that Beijing would work with other parties including the US. The world is facing a "critical time", Kerry told China's President Xi Jinping, citing tensions on the Korean peninsula, Iran's nuclear programme and the conflict in Syria. "Mr President, this is obviously a critical time with some very challenging issues," Kerry told Xi.  "Issues on the Korean peninsula, the challenge of Iran and nuclear weapons, Syria and the Middle East, and economies around the world that are in need of a boost." Kerry arrived from South Korea earlier to press Beijing to help defuse soaring nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula ahead of an expected missile launch by the North, which conducted a nuclear test in February.
 
Beijing is Pyongyang's sole major ally and its key provider of aid and trade, and is seen as having unique leverage over the government of Kim Jong-un, which has issued repeated threats of nuclear war.
 
But Xi did not refer to the Korean peninsula or other issues raised by Kerry in his opening remarks at the meeting, instead saying that the US-China relationship was "at a new historical stage and has got off to a good start".
 
‘Amicable resolution’
 
As North Korea's main trading partner, financial backer and diplomatic ally, Kerry said ahead of his visit that China has a unique ability to use its leverage against the impoverished, isolated state.
 
"There is no group of leaders on the face of the planet who have more capacity to make a difference in this than the Chinese, and everybody knows it, including, I believe, them," Kerry said in Seoul on Friday.
 
"They want to see us try to reach an amicable resolution to this.
 
"But you have to begin with a reality, and the reality is that if your policy is denuclearisation - and it is theirs as it is ours as it is everybody's except the North's at this moment - if that's your policy, you've got to put some teeth into it," he said.
 
Analyst of North Korean affairs Hazel Smith told Al Jazeera on Saturday that both the US and China want to keep the situation on the Korean peninsula under control but that they each think the other can do more.
 
“China sees that the United States has a responsibility as well as North Korea to get in some form of serious diplomatic relations about bringing to an end the overall conflict between the two protagonists so that these military situations don’t reoccur,” Smith said.
 
His visit to Asia, which will include a stop in Tokyo on Sunday, takes place after weeks of North Korean threats of an impending war since the imposition of new UN sanctions in response to its third nuclear test in February.

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