U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping shortly before their meetings at the Great Hall of the People Saturday, April 13, 2013 in Beijing. The question of how Washington can persuade Beijing to exert real pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's unpredictable regime is front and center as Kerry meets Saturday with Chinese leaders in Beijing. (AP Photo/Paul J. Richards, Pool)
Beijing (CNN) -- Following a day of talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese leaders said their two nations would work together to press North Korea to tone down its provocations, amid soaring regional tensions.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Kerry said both the United States and China are calling on North Korea to refrain from any provocative steps -- including any missile launches.
But, he said, both nations want to focus on a peaceful solution, not "threat for threat or confrontational language. There's been enough of that."
No option was left off the table in his talks with Chinese leaders, he said. Among those he met with Saturday were Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and State Councilor Yang.
Kerry said there was no question that China was very serious about upholding international standards.
As he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kerry said, "Mr. president, this is obviously a critical time with some very challenging issues -- issues on the Korean peninsula, the challenge of Iran and nuclear weapons, Syria and the Middle East, and economies around the world that are in need of a boost."
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A North Korea soldier gestures to stop photographers from taking photos from a Chinese tour boat as other soldiers look on along the North Korean bank of the Yalu River near the town of Sinuiji across the Chinese city of Dandong in Liaoning province, China, on Saturday, April 6. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the country's military to increase artillery production, a televised report out of Pyongyang showed on Saturday.
North Korean soldiers gather by the docks in Sinuiju near the Chinese border on Thursday, April 4. North Korea has unleashed another round of scathing rhetoric accusing the United States of pushing the region to the "brink of war." The country may be planning a missile launch soon, a U.S. official told CNN, as tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula. North Korean soldiers patrol along the Yalu River in Sinuiju across the border from the Chinese city of Dandong on April 4.
Kim Jong Un is briefed by his generals in this undated photo. On the wall is a map titled "Plan for the strategic forces to target mainland U.S." Kim Jong Un works during a briefing in this undated photo.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects drills by the Korean People's Army navy at an undisclosed location on North Korea's east coast on March 25 in a photo from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kim makes his way to an observation post with North Korean soldiers on March 25.
Kim uses a pair of binoculars to look south from the Jangjae Islet Defense Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island on March 7.
Kim is greeted by the family of a soldier as he inspects Jangjae Islet Defense Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province on Thursday, March 7, in a photo from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kim is surrounded by soldiers during a visit to the Mu Islet Hero Defense Detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island on March 7. North Korea has escalated its bellicose rhetoric, threatening nuclear strikes, just before the U.N. Security Council passed tougher sanctions against the secretive nation on March 7.
Kim arrives at Jangjae Islet by boat to meet with soldiers of the Jangjae Islet Defense Detachment near Taeyonphyong Island in South Hwanghae province on March 7.
Soldiers in the North Korean army train at an undisclosed location on March 6. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, poses with chiefs of branch social security stations in this undated picture released by North Korea's official news agency on November 27. Kim celebrates with staff from the satellite control center in Pyongyang, North Korea, during the launch of a rocket carrying a satellite, in a photo released by the official North Korean news agency on December 12. A crowd watches as statues of the nation's founder, Kim Il Sung, and his son Kim Jong Il are unveiled during a ceremony in Pyongyang on April 13, 2012. Photos from North Korea are rare, but the country was on full display in April 2012 as it celebrated the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung.
A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of an UNHA III rocket at the Tangachai-ri Space Center on April 8, 2012.
In April 2012, Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket, which broke apart and fell into the sea. The UNHA III rocket is pictured on its launch pad in Tang Chung Ri, North Korea.
A closer look at the UNHA III rocket on its launch pad in Tang Chung Ri, North Korea.
A military vehicle participates in a parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.
North Koreans wave flags in front of portraits of Kim Il Sung, left, and his son Kim Jong Il during celebrations to mark the 100th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012. North Korean soldiers relax at the end of an official ceremony attended by leader Kim Jong Un at a stadium in Pyongyang on April 14, 2012.
Kim Jong Un applauds as he watches a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.
A North Korean soldier stands on a balcony in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
North Korean soldiers march during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.
Soldiers board a bus outside a theater in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
North Korean performers sit below a screen showing images of leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
North Korean soldiers salute during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.
Kim Jong Un visits the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground, which is under construction in Pyongyang, in a photo released on July 3, 2012, by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korean soldiers listen to a speech during an official ceremony attended by leader Kim Jong Un at a stadium in Pyongyang on April 14, 2012.
Members of a North Korean military band gather following an official ceremony at the Kim Il Sung stadium in Pyongyang on April 14, 2012.
North Korean military personnel watch a performance in Pyongyang on April 16, 2012.
A North Korean controller is seen along the railway line between Pyongyang and North Pyongan province on April 8, 2012.
A North Korean military honor guard stands at attention at Pyongyang's airport during a diplomatic visit on May 2, 2001.
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<<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 >>> Photos: Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kerry talks partnership with China
North Koreans brainwashed by government
Diplomatic push in Korean Peninsula
Lamborn explains missile comments
Declassification mistake, intel revealed In a joint statement before dinner, Kerry and Yang reaffirmed their intention to work together toward the peaceful denuclearization of North Korea.
"We agreed that this is critically important for the stability of the region and indeed for the world and for all our nonproliferation efforts," said Kerry.
"We are committed to taking actions in order to make good on that goal and we are committed to make that goal a reality."
China's position is "consistent and clear cut," Yang said. "China is firmly committed to upholding peace and stability and advancing the denuclearization process on the peninsula."
Beijing will work with its international partners to help restart the stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program and hold it accountable to its international agreements, he said.
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Meeting earlier with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Kerry said there were "enormously challenging issues" in front of the two nations.
"I look forward to having that conversation with you today ... (to) define for both of us what the model relationship should be and how two great powers, China and the United States, can work effectively to solve problems," he said.
Wang said he hoped the two nations could work together to handle sensitive issues with "mutual respect."
Kerry landed in Beijing after leaving Seoul, South Korea, where he pledged unbending U.S. military support against any attack from the North.
Washington wants Beijing to "stop the money trail into North Korea" and give Pyongyang a strong message that China wants the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons, two U.S. administration officials said.
U.S. officials said China has recently expressed frustrations over Pyongyang's actions.
"We hear a growing tone of frustration ... in official statements from the Chinese," an administration official said. "China is increasingly concerned about the downstream effects of North Korea's reckless pursuit of a nuclear missile capability and complications for China's foreign strategic environment."
Kerry will seek to define the areas of common interest with China.
"We have a common interest in putting an end to North Korean proliferation," a senior administration official said. "In stopping the highly destabilizing behavior and the provocative actions of the North Koreans."
Kerry is also expected to address computer hacking coming from state-sponsored sources inside China.
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Support for Seoul
During his visit to Seoul on Friday, Kerry said the United States would talk to North Korea, but only if the country gets serious about negotiating the end of its nuclear weapons program.
"North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power," Kerry said in Seoul.
His trip to South Korea came a day after a Pentagon intelligence assessment surfaced suggesting North Korea may have developed the ability to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at its foes.
Disclosed first by a congressman at a hearing Thursday, and then confirmed to CNN by the Defense Department, the Defense Intelligence Agency assessment is the clearest acknowledgment yet by the United States about potential advances in North Korea's nuclear program.
U.S. officials think North Korea could test-launch a mobile ballistic missile at any time in what would be seen by the international community as a highly provocative move.
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Hyeonseo Lee: My escape from North Korea But a senior administration official said there's no indication that any such missiles are armed with nuclear material.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said that "it would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced" in the DIA study.
The DIA has been wrong in the past, producing an assessment in 2002 that formed the basis for arguments that Iraq had nuclear weapons -- a view later found to be incorrect.
Nevertheless, Kerry said any launch by North Korea would be a "huge mistake."
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Despite weeks of bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang threatening nuclear attacks on the United States, South Korea and their allies, U.S. officials have characterized the North's saber rattling as largely bluster.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, speaking with Kerry on Friday, urged North Korea to open talks.
"We urge North Korea to cease its reckless behavior and to stop issuing threats," he said.
A joint statement issued by South Korea and the United States before Kerry's departure emphasized Washington's commitment to defending Seoul "in the wake of recent unacceptable provocations" by the North.
Before departing for Beijing, Kerry attended a meet and greet, where he called the children of diplomats to join him on stage. He told the group that their work was about making the world a safer place for the children.
"This is one of the most important places on earth," he said, referring to the divided Korean Peninsula. It shows what life is like when people are presented with no choices."
North Korea issued a scathing warning to Japan on Friday, saying via its state news agency, KCNA , that Tokyo should "stop recklessly working for staging a comeback on Korea, depending on its American master."
Japanese foreign minister spokesman Masaru Sato said such remarks only hurt North Korea.
"Japan would not be pushed around by rhetoric of North Korea," he said.
Japan's Transport Ministry has issued a notice requiring its airplanes to report to the U.S. military if they fly near the U.S. military's Kadena base in Okinawa prefecture, the Kyodo News Agency said.
The notice, made at the request of the U.S. military in Japan, is believed to be part of precautions taken against possible North Korean missile launches.
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CNN's Jill Dougherty reported from Beijing, Jethro Mullen reported from Hong Kong and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London. CNN's Barbara Starr, K.J. Kwon, Tim Schwarz, Kyung Lah, Judy Kwon, Chris Lawrence, Elise Labott, Adam Levine and Michael Pearson contributed to this report.