US officials involved in enforcing international sanctions against North Korea expressed optimism Friday that China was willing to cooperate to disrupt financing for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.
"China is part of the solution and is working with us in a cooperative spirit," Dan Fried, the State Department's sanctions coordinator, told reporters.
The latest effort to punish North Korea, UN Security Council Resolution 2094, came in response to its nuclear test last month and a rocket launch in December.
But previous attempts by the global body to derail Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development have failed.
Fried and David Cohen, the Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, held talks with Chinese officials Thursday and planned more Friday. The talks follow visits to Tokyo and Seoul earlier in the week.
China, which borders North Korea and has been a key source of trade as well as political and military support for the country for more than six decades, is seen by analysts as the key to making sanctions work.
Resolution 2094 stands a higher chance of working, Cohen said, citing provisions targeting financial services and cargo shipments supporting the North's nuclear, missile and arms programmes, bulk cash smuggling by North Korea, and the role of its diplomats.
"We've heard nothing but the strong intention to implement the Security Council resolution," said Cohen. "And we fully expect to work very cooperatively with the Chinese in the robust implementation of that resolution."
But the officials declined to offer any concrete examples of Chinese action so far to shake up the North's nuclear and weapons financing.
Their trip to Beijing comes just after one by US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and ahead of a visit by new Secretary of State John Kerry.
Fried acknowledged the challenge of whether sanctions would influence North Korea's behaviour. "The possibility for further provocation unfortunately exists," he said.