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(LEAD) Kerry: U.S., China stand firm against N. Korea's nuclear ambition

All News 11:05 June 06, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with Kerry's remarks on North Korea in first 4 paras; CHANGES headline)
By Kim Deok-hyun

BEIJING, June 6 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Washington and Beijing "stand firmly" on North Korea's defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons, calling for the North to stop all activities that escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Kerry made the remarks at the opening of the two-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), which is the highest-level regular dialogue channel between the two countries.

U.S. and China have been at odds over China's aggressive military behavior in the South China Sea, cyber-hacking, and trade disputes, as well as human rights issues, but they have struck a cooperative tone over North Korea.

Kerry called for North Korea to stop "all actions that threaten" peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said, in his opening speech, Washington and Beijing have been in cooperation over regional security issues, including nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula and Iran.

This week's talks come amid deepening tensions over China's ongoing construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea in an apparent bid to bolster its territorial claims in the waters also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam.

China stepped up its island-building activities in the South China Sea as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to rule on a case brought by the Philippines in the coming weeks. China has said it would not recognize the international court's ruling over its territorial claim in the South China Sea.

During a regional security forum in Singapore over the weekend, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned that China risks building a "Great Wall of self-isolation" with its aggressive military activities in the South China Sea.

U.S. officials said Washington would also call for Beijing to increase its pressure on North Korea to help give up its nuclear weapons ambition.

China supported tougher U.N. sanctions following North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January.

In a sign of repairing political ties that were soured over the North's nuclear ambition, Ri Su-yong, a top official in North Korea's ruling party, met Xi last week in Beijing.

During the meeting with Xi, Ri said North Korea would stick to its policy of simultaneously pursuing both economic and nuclear development.


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