RIYADH - US Secretary of State John Kerry begins a visit to East Asia on Sunday in which he plans to press China to put more curbs on North Korea after its nuclear test and to urge Southeast Asia to show unity in response to China's claims in the South China Sea.
Kerry starts what will be a three-day stay in the region in Laos, the 2016 chair the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), after attending the Davos summit in Switzerland and a stop in Saudi Arabia.
He will head to Cambodia on Monday night and then on to Beijing for talks on Wednesday with the leadership there.
In Beijing, Kerry is expected to stress the need for a united front in response to this month's North Korean nuclear test through additional UN sanctions and for a tough unilateral response from China, North Korea's main ally and neighbor, a senior official of the US State Department said.
"It is very important to present a united front ... but that united front has to be a firm one, not a flaccid one," the official told journalists traveling with Kerry.