Kerry, on a two-day visit to Beijing, had been expected to press
China, North Korea's lone major backer, for more curbs on Pyongyang
after it said it had successfully conducted a test of a miniaturized
hydrogen nuclear device, though the United States has voiced
scepticism as to whether it was that powerful.
China has insisted it is already making great efforts to achieve
denuclearization on the Korean peninsula and Wang rejected any
"groundless speculation" on its North Korea stance, following
remarks from U.S. officials that China could do more.
"We agreed that the U.N. Security Council needs to take further
action and pass a new resolution," Wang told reporters at a joint
briefing with Kerry.
"In the meantime, we must point out that the new resolution should
not provoke new tensions."
Kerry said the two sides had agreed to an "accelerated effort" at
the U.N. to reach a "strong resolution that introduces significant
new measures" to curtail North Korea's ability to advance its
nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
"It's not enough to agree on the goal. We believe we need to agree
on the meaningful steps necessary to get the achievement of the
goal," Kerry said.
The exchange of goods and services between China and North Korea was
one area where steps could be taken to pressure Pyongyang back to
talks, he said.
Kerry also said that shipping, aviation, trade of resources,
including coal and fuel, and security at border customs, were key
areas in the sanctions debate. North Korea is heavily reliant on
China for oil, gasoline and trade.
"All nations, particularly those that seek a global leadership role,
share a fundamental responsibility to meet this challenge with a
united front," Kerry said.
He added that the U.S. would take "all necessary steps" to honor
security commitments to allies, signaling that the U.S. was prepared
to continue ramping up its military presence in the region, a move
that would likely unsettle Beijing.
The 15-member U.N. Security Council said at the time of North
Korea's test that it would begin working on significant new measures
in response, a threat diplomats said could mean an expansion of
Since then, diplomats said Washington and Beijing have been
primarily negotiating on a draft resolution, but when asked on
Saturday if they were nearing agreement, U.S. Ambassador to the
United Nations Samantha Power said no.
After talks on Wednesday, which went hours past schedule, Kerry said
details still had not been set.
In a sign that Beijing could be reluctant to take a more hardline
stance on North Korea, state news agency Xinhua said it was
"unrealistic to rely merely on China to press the DPRK to abandon
its nuclear program, as long as the U.S. continues an antagonistic
approach wrought from a Cold War mentality".
"Bear in mind that China-DPRK ties should not be understood as a
top-down relationship where the latter follows every bit of advice
offered by the former," Xinhua said, referring to North Korea by its
official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
[to top of second column]
Xinhua commentaries are not official government pronouncements, but
can be read as a reflection of official thinking. Wang added that
sanctions should be seen as a path to negotiation, and not as a
punitive end in themselves.
SOUTH CHINA SEA MILITARIZATION
Kerry said that a need for the United States and China to find a way
forward on easing tension in the South China Sea weighed heavily in
"I stressed the importance of finding common ground among the
claimants and avoiding a destabilizing cycle of mistrust or
escalation," Kerry said. "Foreign Minister Wang Yi accepted the idea
that it would be worth exploring whether or not there was a way to
reduce the tensions and solve some of the challenges through
Wang said China's activities in the region, which have elicited
unease from the U.S. and its allies, should not be construed as
"China has given a commitment of not engaging in so-called
militarization, and we will honor that commitment," Wang said. "We
cannot accept the allegation that China's words are not being
matched by action."
His remarks came as Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said he planned a
trip to the Taiwanese-held island of Itu Aba, known as Taiping
Island in Taiwan, in the sea, a move a U.S. official called
"extremely unhelpful" in resolving disputes over the waterway.
China claims almost all the disputed waters in the potentially oil-
and gas-rich South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
It has been building up facilities on islands it controls, angering
the Philippines and Vietnam and drawing criticism from the United
States, which has expressed deep concern that the construction will
exacerbate tension in the region.
Kerry was in Cambodia on Tuesday after a visit to neighboring Laos
as part of an effort to urge unity among leaders of the 10-nation
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the sea issue
before a summit with President Barack Obama next month.
China insists any disputes should be handled bilaterally.
(Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee in Singapore; Writing by
Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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