The United States and China have pledged to work together to resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula, where tensions are high following North Korean threats to carry out a nuclear attack.
Following talks Saturday in Beijing, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi said they support the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
Kerry said the two diplomats agreed that denuclearization is critical for regional and world-wide stability. Yang said China will work with the U.S. and other countries to play a key role in renewing the stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program.
Earlier Saturday, Kerry discussed the North's atomic program and other issues with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kerry told President Xi that now is a "critical time."
The top U.S. diplomat has been urging Chinese officials to use their influence as North Korea's top ally to get Pyongyang to back off of its threats.
North Korea has threatened to wage a nuclear war on the U.S. mainland and other American targets in the region. It has also warned of being close to conducting another missile test.
Officials say the missile test could happen at any time. South Korea says it expects the test to occur in the run-up to Monday's birthday celebration of North Korea's late founding leader Kim Il Sung.
Kerry said the U.S. Defense Department is working on the assumption that North Korea is not yet able to place a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile, despite a U.S. intelligence report suggesting it does have that capability.
Kerry is on his first visit to East Asia since becoming secretary of state, but the broader issues he hoped to address have been overshadowed by the North Korean threats.
North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests. The latest, in February, used what the North said was a "smaller and lighter" device. Late last year, it succeeded in using a long-range missile to place a satellite into orbit.