WASHINGTON -- China has an obligation as well as an interest in preventing a potential nuclear test by North Korea, a state department spokesperson said Wednesday, amid speculation that Pyongyang may conduct a nuclear test at any time.
Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesman for the department, also reiterated that the US remains willing to engage in direct conversation with North Korea.
The remarks come after US President Joe Biden held his first face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia earlier this week.
"In the bilateral meeting that President Biden had with President Xi, he raised concerns about the DPRK's provocative behavior and noted that all members of the international community, including the PRC, have a vested interest in encouraging the DPRK to act responsibly," Patel told a press briefing, referring to North Korea and China by their official names, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the People's Republic of China.
"And the PRC has a responsibility to make clear to the DPRK that Pyongyang should not engage in unlawful and destabilizing nuclear or ballistic missile tests," he added.
Biden earlier said he told Xi that the US will be required to take "more defensive actions" in the Indo-Pacific region should North Korea conduct what will be its seventh nuclear test, and that such actions will be "up in the face of China" even though they will be directed at North Korea and not China.
US officials, including State Department Press Secretary Ned Price, have said the North may conduct a nuclear test "at any time."
Pyongyang conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.
"Our belief continues to be that we must limit the DPRK's ability to advance its unlawful ballistic missiles program and its weapons of mass destruction program," said Patel.
"And we remain prepared to be engaged in sustained dialogue and serious diplomacy towards making that progress whether that be with the PRC or other partners in the region, like our partners in the Republic of Korea and Japan who also we've been engaging quite closely on this," he added, referring to South Korea by its official name.