Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are preparing to hold yearly bilateral talks that will include a focus on the North Korea nuclear impasse.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will co-lead the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which is to begin on Wednesday in Beijing.
An unidentified high-ranking Obama administration official told journalists that “a steady convergence of views” was discernible between China and the United States “on both the importance and the urgency of moving North Korea to take irreversible steps to denuclearize,” Reuters reported.
“Particularly in the week of [Chinese President Xi Jinping’s] visit to Seoul, we see value in building out U.S.-China cooperation, strengthening our consensus on the importance of denuclearization and refining further our strategy,” the official said.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang in a Monday press conference in Beijing said his government was working “closely on the nuclear issues of the Korean Peninsula” with Washington, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Despite recent statements from Beijing and Washington hailing their close working relationship on the North Korea question, differences remain. The United States for years has demanded that Pyongyang make a demonstration of its willingness to permanently shut down its nuclear weapons program before multinational aid-for-denuclearization negotiations are resumed. China, however, is understood to oppose setting such preconditions for talks to continue.
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A Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, one of several such islands at the center of territorial disputes with other nearby nations. The U.S. called it a "freedom of navigation exercise." Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang "said China had lodged stern representations to the U.S over the patrol and that such moves were not conducive to peace and stability in the South China Sea."