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China urges peaceful resolution of North Korea nuclear standoff

Secretary of State John Kerry and China’s top diplomat on Saturday reiterated the two countries’ commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.

"China and the United States must together take steps in order to achieve the goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, and today we agreed to have further discussions, to bear down very quickly with great specificity on exactly how we will accomplish this goal," Kerry said Saturday before flying on to Japan, the last stop on his Asian tour.

China's top diplomat echoed the goal, but wasn't specific about how pressure might be applied on North Korea, which had been threatening the United States and its "puppet" South Korea almost daily in recent weeks.

"China is firmly committed to upholding peace and stability and advancing the denuclearization process on the peninsula," Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi said.

"We maintain that the issue should be handled and resolved peacefully through dialogue and consultation," he added.

Visiting Beijing for the first time as secretary of state, Kerry tried to persuade China's President Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea, his country's ally, arguing that Pyongyang's erratic young leader, Kim Jong Un, is threatening the stability of the entire region.

Kerry declined to comment on what specifically China may do to push for a peaceful solution on North Korea, saying only that he and Chinese officials had discussed all possibilities.

On Sunday, Kerry arrived in Japan, which is in range of North Korea's medium-range missiles. He'll meet with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, Reuters noted, as North Korea prepares for its biggest holiday -- the birthday of founder Kim Il Sung on Monday. 

North Korea has prepped two medium-range Musudan-1 missiles waiting on its east coast, and analysts have said that it might fire one or both as a means for Kim Jong Un -- the founder's grandson -- to save face and appease his military after the weeks of saber-rattling.

Related:

Kerry to North Korea: We will 'defend our allies'

Analysis: China grows weary of North Korea

Full North Korea coverage from NBC News