Wrapping up an eight-day, around-the-world diplomatic mission in Beijing, Kerry hailed US-China cooperation on several issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and climate change, but said consensus on North Korea and the South China Sea remained a work in progress.

Kerry called North Korea "a major challenge to global security" and noted US "concerns and activities in the South China Sea."

The US badly wants China to take a firmer stance in urging North Korea to end its nuclear testing. China is North Korea's main link to the outside world, and American officials say Beijing isn't doing enough to persuade North Korea to stop the tests and return to disarmament talks.

The so-called six-party talks between the North and South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan have been stalled since they were last held in December 2008.

Kerry arrived in China from stops in Laos and Cambodia, where he called on the two members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to present a united front in dealing with increasing Chinese assertiveness over the South China Sea claims.

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