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Chinese Strategy on North Korea 'Has Not Worked,' Kerry Says Bluntly

The secretary of state forcefully pushed back against the notion that Washington hasn't paid enough attention to North Korea.

An unusually blunt Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that China's diplomatic strategy to defuse the North Korean nuclear strategy simply hasn't worked.

Kerry told reporters in Washington that the United States "respected" the process advocated by Beijing. But in a striking departure from his usual diplomatic language, he said he told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi by phone Thursday that "that has not worked and we cannot continue business as usual."

Kerry said he raised the North Korea nuclear problem at his first meeting in Beijing as secretary of state and that China had pushed for its own approach, wanting to avoid being too confrontational with Pyongyang.

And in response to a question from NBC News, Kerry called the idea that he hasn't paid enough attention to North Korea following the isolated country's most recent nuclear test "entirely inaccurate" and "without foundation."

State Department spokesman John Kirby said that in their call Thursday, Kerry and Wang agreed that the United States and China would coordinate with the United Nations and partners within the Six-Party Talks framework — China, the United States, North and South Korea, Japan and Russia — "to take appropriate action."

Related: Can North Korea's Kim Jong Un Handle Blowback After Stoking World Crisis?

The Security Council said Wednesday that the nuclear test was a clear violation of four Security Council resolutions and that it would "begin to work immediately" on a new resolution. But it has not said whether that resolution would include further sanctions.

The House is expected to consider a bill next week that would strengthen unilateral U.S. sanctions.