John Kerry Goes to China, Seeking Help to Defuse Korea Crisis

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, met China’s top leaders today in order to discuss growing nuclear crisis involving North Korea, warning President Xi Jinping that the world is facing a “critical” moment.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping upon entering the Fujian Room at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on April 13, 2013. Photo: U.S. Department of State/Flickr

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry issued the call during a visit to Beijing on Saturday, where he said China needed to use its influence over Pyongyang if hostilities were to be avoided.

Kerry’s visit to Asia, which will include a stop in Tokyo tomorrow, takes place after weeks of shrill North Korean threats of war since the imposition of new UN sanctions in response to its third nuclear test in February, writes the Independent.

Mr. Kerry’s trip to China, his first since taking office, is part of an intensive three-day push to try to calm tensions on the Korean Peninsula that have threatened to spiral out of control and rattled world leaders.

It is no secret that the main goal of Mr. Kerry’s trip to China is to see the country take a more activist stance towards North Korea, which in recent weeks has threatened nuclear war against the United States and South Korea.

In its turn a Chinese statement issued said the nuclear issue was the “shared responsibility of all parties”.

“Mr President, this is obviously a critical time with some very challenging issues,” Kerry told China’s new leader in the Great Hall of the People, on the second leg of an Asian tour that has been swamped by the Korea crisis.

Mr. Kerry said the two sides must decide “very quickly” how to proceed.

As well as “issues on the Korean peninsula”, he cited Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Syria and the Middle East, and the world’s economic woes.

He later issued a statement saying the US and China were able “to underscore our joint commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner”.

He said the two sides would have “further discussions to bear down very quickly with great specificity on exactly how we will accomplish this goal”.

In a news conference, Mr. Kerry suggested that the United States could remove some newly enhanced missile defenses in the region, though he did not specify which ones. Any eventual cutback would address Chinese concerns about the buildup of American weapons systems in the region, reports the NY Times.

Earlier in Seoul, Mr Kerry said: “I think it’s clear to everybody in the world that no country in the world has as close a relationship or as significant an impact on the DPRK (North Korea) than China.”

North Korea has reportedly moved at least two Musudan ballistic missiles to its east coast, but on Saturday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted officials in Seoul as saying that no new movement of the mobile launchers had been detected for two days.

According to the Telegraph, a Chinese city on the border with North Korea and Russia, Hunchun, held an air raid drill Friday, but an official told AFP it was a routine exercise.

However, North Korean television made no mention of Kerry’s visit and devoted most of its reports to preparations for Monday’s celebrations marking the birth date of state founder Kim Il-Sung.

President Barack Obama began his second term in January with a major reshuffle of his cabinet, while China has just completed its once-in-a-decade power transition, with a new government headed by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang installed in March.

Both nations have undergone major reshuffles of their diplomatic corps, with Kerry and Wang Yi , one of his Chinese counterparts as foreign minister, having just taken office; the senior foreign affairs portfolio went to State Councillor Yang Jiechi, formerly foreign minister, informs the South China Morning Post.

China had a testy relationship with Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, believing her to be too abrasive in their disagreements over everything from human rights to territorial disputes like the South China Sea.

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