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A senior American official says the United States and China share what he describes as "tight and close" coordination about North Korea.
An international flurry of activity has surrounded North Korea, which Monday launched five short-range missiles. Earlier in the year, North Korea tested a long-range missile and a nuclear explosive.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell spoke to reporters in Beijing, Wednesday. He said North Korea was one of the top items on the agenda in his meetings with Chinese officials.
"I have rarely seen better coordination between China and the United States, in particular," Campbell said. "We work very closely before, during and after senior visits. So, when [Chinese envoy] Wu Dawei or Premier Wen goes to North Korea, our coordination is tight and close."
One week after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao went to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean leaders, including Kim Jong Il, Campbell said he came to Beijing to find out what the Chinese learned on that trip.
"I will underscore several things that Chinese friends told us," Campbell said. "First of all, that Kim Jong Il was very actively involved in every aspect of diplomacy. And, he sent a personal picture of vigorous engagement in all aspects of interactions with Chinese interlocutors."
Campbell says Chinese officials told him North Korea wants to have a bilateral engagement with the United States. But he stresses that these talks will only take place within the six-party framework of North Korean denuclearization talks - grouping the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.
"The United States will not entertain direct negotiations between the United States and North Korea, absent a six-party commitment," he said.
North Korea pulled out of the six-party talks, earlier this year. Campbell says Washington wants to see Pyongyang live up to commitments it already made in formal six-party agreements, before anything can, "move forward over the course of the next several months."