Kerry and Wang Yi "reaffirmed the U.S. and China's shared commitment to work toward North Korean denuclearization," Jen Psaki, the department's spokeswoman said in a read-out of a phone conversation between them on Monday night (Washington time).
But the two sides remained at odds with each other over Beijing's aggressive approach toward the territorial stand-offs with its neighboring countries.
Kerry especially told Wang that China's introduction of an oil rig and numerous government vessels in waters disputed with Vietnam was "provocative," added Psaki. "He urged both sides to de-escalate tensions, ensure safe conduct by their vessels at sea, and resolve the dispute through peaceful means in accordance with international law," she said.
Tensions soared in the region last week after China moved a giant oil rig into an area also claimed by Vietnam. Vietnam said Chinese vessels had rammed its patrol ships. Beijing said its ships were just responding to a threat from the Vietnamese side. In Beijing, China's foreign ministry accused the U.S. of worsening the situation.
"There is indeed a country taking provocative actions in the South China Sea, but this country is not China," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing. "The U.S. mistaken comments have encouraged dangerous and provocative actions. We expect the United States to reflect on its acts. If it indeed expects the Pacific Ocean to be pacific, it should think what role it can play in maintaining regional peace and stability." (Yonhap)