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Activists in Seoul chant slogans on Wednesday during a rally against Pyongyang's possible nuclear test. [KIM HONG-JI / REUTERS]
Washington and Pyongyang kept trading verbal volleys on Wednesday as the United States warned of "further consequences" if the Democratic People's Republic of Korea goes ahead with a third nuclear test, and the DPRK threatened "stronger measures than a nuclear test".
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his US counterpart John Kerry had earlier exchanged views on the nuclear issue in a phone call on Tuesday night, following Kerry's conversations this week with his counterparts from Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying quoted Yang as saying that it remained both countries' responsibility — as well as in the best interests of all parties concerned — to address the nuclear issue appropriately and to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
"The Chinese side is committed to the achievement of denuclearization, as well as maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," she quoted Yang as saying.
"All parties should keep this overall situation in mind, maintain a cautious attitude, be committed to the achievement of denuclearization on the peninsula, and try to address the concerns of all parties through dialogue to avoid any escalation of tensions."
Yang said all parties should work together to create conditions for the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
US Department of State Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday that US conversations with China, Japan and the ROK "were remarkably similar" on the importance of implementing the commitments of the UN Security Council resolution on Pyongyang's rocket launch on Dec 12.
She said that all the countries involved in the talks are concerned that despite the strong measures outlined in the resolution, "the provocative rhetoric continues, which means that we've all got to stay unified in watching this and making absolutely clear to Kim Jong-un (the DPRK's top leader) that if it takes further action, so will we".
Kurt Campbell, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said during talks at the Aspen Institute in Washington on Jan 29 that the US believed the Chinese had discouraged Pyongyang "in no uncertain terms" from conducting "any further provocative actions".
Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on US-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, added that among the DPRK's neighbors, "China has shown the greatest policy variability" in its responses to Pyongyang's nuclear tests thus far.
Yet Chen Qi, a global affairs professor at Tsinghua University, said it is the US that wields greater influence over the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
"It is a challenge for the US to deal with the current situation, because what Washington does will highly influence all other relevant countries' decisions."
Xinhua — China Daily — AP