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Chinese, US Officials Meet to Discuss Korean Tensions

China hopes to strengthen dialogue with the United States, on bilateral, regional and international issues, including the Korean crisis. As part of that dialogue, a top U.S. official meets with Chinese officials in Beijing.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the officials meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in Beijing Thursday included China's top officials on North Korea

Jiang calls China and the United States "major" countries and says, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the two nations need to work together to strengthen dialogue and communication.

She also said the two countries have common interests, and so should work together rather than competing against each other.

Tensions have risen sharply on the Korean peninsula after North Korea last month shelled a South Korean island near the border, killing four people. South Korea returned fire, which led to fears of a war.

The U.S. government condemned the North Korean shelling and has since then held military exercises with South Korea and Japan. U.S. officials have repeatedly called on China to do more to rein in North Korea, its ally.

Beijing refuses to condemn Pyongyang for the attacks. The Chinese government calls for a diplomatic solution to the latest crisis and has criticized U.S. and South Korean military exercises for escalating tensions on the peninsula.

Wang Dong, an international studies associate professor at Peking University, says he is optimistic China and the United States will be able to resolve their differences over North Korea.

"Both China and the United States share a common goal and a common interest in resolving the nuclear crisis on the peninsula," Wang said. "I think we should always remember that. I think the only difference between China and the United States is in terms of approach, you know, how to deal with that."

Steinberg is scheduled to leave Beijing Friday.

Also , the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, spoke to reporters in Beijing Thursday on his way to Pyongyang. "My message to them will be we need peace, we need to stop some of these aggressive actions. We need North Korea to participate in the 2005 agreement to denuclearize, and we need them to stop some of the aggressive actions, especially with respect to South Korea," he said.

Richardson, who is now governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico, is on an unofficial visit. Although he does not represent the U.S. government, he has said he will discuss his trip with Obama administration officials afterward.