Kerry tells China's Xi Korea situation at 'critical time'

The current situation on the Korean peninsula is at a "critical time", US Secretary of State John Kerry told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday as he arrived to seek Beijing's intervention in the crisis.

"Mr President, this is obviously a critical time with some very challenging issues," Kerry told Xi in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"Issues on the Korean peninsula, the challenge of Iran and nuclear weapons, Syria and the Middle East, and economies around the world that are in need of a boost."

Kerry arrived from South Korea earlier to press Beijing to help defuse soaring nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula, which have been mounting since the North conducted a rocket test last December and a nuclear test in February.

Beijing is Pyongyang's sole major ally and its key provider of aid and trade, and is seen as having unique leverage over the government of Kim Jong-Un, which has issued repeated threats of nuclear war.

But Xi did not refer to the Korean peninsula in his opening remarks at the meeting, instead saying that the US-China relationship was "at a new historical stage and has got off to a good start".