U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Beijing for talks aimed at encouraging Chinese leaders to put more pressure on ally North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.
Kerry arrived in the Chinese capital early Friday from South Korea, where he met Thursday with South Korea's president and foreign minister. The meeting followed the first-high-level talks earlier this week between North and South Korea in seven years.
In Seoul, Kerry told reporters China has a unique and critical role in persuading Pyongyang to resume talks on its nuclear program. He acknowledged Beijing's help in recent months, but said China can do more as the leading supplier of fuel and banking services to North Korea.
In the absence of the so-called six-party talks, which the North quit in 2009, Pyongyang has rebuilt some of its nuclear facilities and alarmed a host of regional and Western governments with several underground nuclear tests.
Washington has been critical of what it sees as China's attempts to gain control over contested parts of the East and South China Seas. Last week U.S. officials called on China to clarify or amend its vast maritime claims, suggesting they may be inconsistent with international law.
The Asia trip is Kerry's fifth visit to the region since becoming the top U.S. diplomat last year. In addition to South Korea and China, he visits Indonesia on Saturday.
In Indonesia, the last leg of Kerry's trip, he is set to deliver a major speech on climate change. Analysts say the archipelago nation is especially vulnerable to climate change.
From Jakarta, Kerry heads Monday to the United Arab Emirates to meet Gulf leaders on Iran nuclear talks, Syria's civil war and Middle East peace talks.
Some have accused the White House of focusing on the Middle East at the expense of its so-called economic and military "pivot" to Asia.