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Mrs. Clinton said the North has chosen a path of “confrontation and isolation.”

But she held open the possibility of a better future if the North makes the “right choices.”

U.S. officials have been pressing China to condemn the North’s provocative behavior.

When asked why it had taken so long to arrange the call between Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu, White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton told reporters both men had “pretty busy schedules.”

Mr. Obama urged Mr. Hu to “work with us and others to send a clear message to North Korea that its provocations are unacceptable,” the White House said.