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The effort by U.S. leaders to push on China to pressure Pyongyang to tone down it’s rhetoric and come back to the international negotiating table is not new.

Last year, President Obama urged former Chinese President Hu Jintao to call on North Korea to abandon plans it had at the time to carry out a rocket lunch.

Under newly appointed Chinese President Xi Jingping, who replaced Mr. Hu this year, there have been signs that Beijing may now be more ready to work with Washington on North Korea — particularly in light of the recent escalation in tensions.

While he did not mention the nation by name, during a speech last week Mr. Xi appeared to be speaking of North Korea when he said that “no one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains.”

Ahead of Saturday’s talks, analysts told The Washington Times that Mr. Kerry’s best strategy may be to attempt to build on that momentum along with China’s decision to side with Washington last month in supporting the most recent U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea.

A key point in the sanctions call on U.N. member countries — including China, which shares an 880-mile border with North Korea — to “inspect all cargo” exiting or entering the nation if there are “reasonable grounds to believe” the cargo contains military equipment or materials the could be used to make nuclear weapons.

The question on the minds of some foreign policy experts in Washington is the extent to which China is actually enforcing such measures.

Asked specifically on Saturday whether he believed Pyongyang could have achieved its current nuclear capability without a flow of materials and transactions across the North Korea-China border, Mr. Kerry responded that he did not “want to get into any classified information.”

He went on to say there was no “insinuation that it is China” who has helped North Korean obtain its nuclear capability. “There are plenty of places in the world where we know proliferation is taking place,” Mr. Kerry added, citing Pakistan and Iran and two possibilities.

“I think it’s inappropriate for me to speak for China and I think the Chinese over time will speak as they deem it necessary and appropriate,” the secretary of state said. “It’s up to them to tell you what and when and how, but there’s no question in my mind that China is very serious, very serious, about denuclearizing” the Korean Peninsula.