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Kerry in China to Discuss North Korean Challenge

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Beijing for talks with top Chinese officials on North Korea's nuclear program and related issues.

Kerry is expected to urge China, North Korea's closest ally, to pressure Pyongyang to tone down its recent belligerent language and back away from threats to test launch a medium range missile. He is scheduled to meet Saturday with China's foreign minister Wang Yi and also with the country's new president, Xi Jinping.

In a recent speech, President Xi said -- without explicitly naming North Korea -- that "no country should be allowed to throw a whole region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain."

Friday in Seoul, Kerry said it would be a "huge mistake" if North Korea follows through on its threat to conduct another missile test.

Officials have warned a missile test could happen at any time. South Korea says a test could occur as North Korea prepares to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the birth of it's founding leader, Kim Il Sung, on Monday.



Kerry said the Pentagon is working on the assumption that North Korea is not yet able to place a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile, despite a leaked U.S. intelligence report suggesting that it does have that capability.

Also Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he backed the idea of Switzerland hosting a fresh round of six-nation talks on North Korea's atomic program.

North Korea abandoned the talks in 2009 to protest international condemnation of its long-range missile tests. The United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea are involved in negotiations with Pyongyang on closing its nuclear program in exchange for aid and energy.

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.

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