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US welcomes China, Russia moves in N. Korea crisis

This photo taken by KCNA on April 6, 2013 shows North Korean soldiers taking part in a shooting training, place unknown
This photo taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 6, 2013 and released on April 7, 2013 shows North Korean soldiers taking part in a shooting training towards targets with images of South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwa

The White House on Monday welcomed efforts by Russia and China to ease the crisis with North Korea, after pushing both nations to use their influence to change the isolated state's behavior.

Washington last week had urged China and Russia to exert their leverage following several bellicose actions and statements from Pyongyang under its untested new leader Kim Jong-Un, which sent regional tensions soaring.

"We welcome efforts by Beijing and Moscow to encourage Pyongyang to refrain from provocative rhetoric and threats," said White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday.

A South Korean security guard on the road leading to North Korea's Kaesong joint industrial complex on April 8, 2013
A South Korean security guard stands on the road leading to North Korea's Kaesong joint industrial complex, in the border city of Paju on April 8, 2013.

"We will continue to work with our Chinese, Russian and other partners to get North Korea to abide by its international obligations," he added.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter, meanwhile, said the US military was closely tracking the situation but voiced hope China would persuade North Korea to pull back from confrontation.

"I do think that China could play and I do wish that they would play a larger role in influencing North Korea to stop these provocations," Carter said at an event at a Washington think tank.

"China has more influence than any other country on North Korea," he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waves to soldiers from a wooden boat on March 7, 2013
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waves to soldiers from a wooden boat as he inspects a military detachment near South Korea's Taeyonphyong Island, in a photo taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on March 7, 2013.

The New York Times reported late Friday that the United States had pressured China's new President Xi Jinping to crack down on Kim's regime, or face an increased American military presence in the region.

Citing unnamed administration officials, the newspaper said the recent US exchanges with China included a phone call from President Barack Obama to Xi.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that there were deep concerns over the situation on the Korean peninsula.

"We oppose provocative words and actions by any party in this region, and will not allow troublemaking on China's doorstep," he said in unusually sharp comments released by the foreign ministry late Saturday.

Reporters interview a driver arriving from North Korea's Kaesong joint industrial complex, in Paju on April 8, 2013
Reporters interview a driver arriving from North Korea's Kaesong joint industrial complex, at a gate at the inter-Korean transit office in the border city of Paju on April 8, 2013.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that any conflict on the Korean peninsula would be worse than the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and praised Washington for delaying a ballistic missile test.

"We should thank the United States for this important step," he said in Hanover, Germany.

"I hope it will be noticed by our partners including North Korea and that everyone will calm down and work together to seek a solution to the various problems."

Tensions have been running high on the Korean peninsula with a series of apocalyptic threats from the North, incensed by fresh UN sanctions imposed after its widely-condemned long-range rocket launch and a third nuclear test.

Photo taken on April 6, 2013, shows North Korean soldiers training with military dogs at an undisclosed location
This photo taken on April 6, 2013, and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on April 7, 2013, shows North Korean soldiers taking part in a training with military dogs at an undisclosed location.

The Pentagon is not ready to dismiss North Korea's threats, despite recognizing Pyongyang's tendency to engage in bellicose language, Carter said.

"North Koreans have been determined to create a crisis atmosphere, but just because they have a habit of indulging in extreme rhetoric doesn't mean we don't take the situation very seriously," Carter said.

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