US, China: Korean Peninsula must be free of nuclear weapons

Secretary of State John Kerry is in China, asking the country's leaders for their help in easing tensions with a bellicose North Korea.

ADVERTISEMENT
Kerry is meeting with Chinese leaders, including its president and premier, to ask them to act as a diplomatic bridge with North Korea, which has been ramping up aggressive rhetoric and is threatening to test a mid-range missile any day.

After a meeting with China's top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, the two countries agreed that the Korean Peninsula must be denuclearized, according to Reuters.

"We are able, the United States and China, to underscore our joint commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner," Kerry told reporters while standing next to Yang.

China is the only country in the world with any real influence over the country, as it supplies much of its food and fuel and is North Korea's only real trade partner.

But while China and the U.S. both want to avoid direct conflict, Chinese authorities care more about long-term stability of the North Korean regime and often overlook short-term saber-rattling. They're also suspicious of U.S. military activity in that area.

To assuage concerns, American officials have emphasized that they're not aiming for regime change in North Korea, according to the Associated Press report. In Seoul, South Korea on Friday, Kerry said the U.S. had cancelled a number of military training exercises with South Korea, a message directed at Chinese leaders.

"I think we have lowered our rhetoric significantly and we are attempting to find a way for reasonableness to prevail here," Kerry told reporters. "We are seeking a partner to deal with in a rational and reasonable way."

--This report was updated at 10:35 a.m.