BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - The United States wants China to deliver a "tough" message to North Korea to rein in its nuclear program and belligerent rhetoric, a US official said on Friday as US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Asia.
Kerry begins a three-day visit to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo as US and South Korean officials say the nuclear-armed North appears poised to test a medium-range missile after weeks of threatening statements.
Making his first trip to the region since taking office on February 1, Kerry hopes both to persuade China to use its economic and diplomatic leverage to try to temper North Korea's behavior and to reassure US allies Japan and South Korea.
"We really want them to ... carry some tough messages to Pyongyang" on denuclearization, a senior US official told reporters traveling with Kerry, who arrives in Seoul on Friday, in Beijing on Saturday and in Tokyo on Sunday.
Kerry also wanted to convey an unambiguous message in Seoul and Tokyo that "we are prepared and that alliance matters (and) that we will defend them," the official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, added.