The US and China have agreed on key points related to punishing North Korea over its defiant nuclear test and rocket launch during the Beijing Foreign Minister Wang Yi's ongoing visit to Washington. The consensus between the two veto-wielding powers is an indication that fresh UN-led sanctions on Pyongyang would be introduced in the coming days.
Following his talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Wang told reporters that the specifics of the sanctions are still being "evaluated". Beijing has long been arguing that further clampdown on Pyongyang would cripple the North Korean economy.
"Important progress has been made in the consultations and we are looking at the possibility of reaching agreement on a draft resolution and passing it in the near future," Wang told reporters. The talks between the diplomats were dominated by North Korea and the tensions in the South China Sea.
"We do not accept the DPRK's [official name of North Korea] nuclear missile programme and we do not recognise the DPRK as a nuclear weapons state. Important progress has been made in the consultations and we are looking at the possibility of reaching agreement on a draft resolution and passing it in the near future."
Kerry also later confirmed that "significant progress" has been made during the talks. "There is no question that if the resolution is approved, it will go beyond anything that we have previously passed," he said.
"I believe that what we are considering is significant but, as I say, it is in the appropriate evaluative stages and we both hope that this can move forward very soon."
Ever since the belligerent hermit kingdom carried out its fourth nuclear test on 6 January and followed it up with a long-range rocket launch on 7 February, the Korean peninsula has been under constant turbulence. Both these acts violate UN regulations and sparked worldwide condemnation. The US Security Council has been scrambled to discuss further measures on Pyongyang so as to force the Kim Jong-un regime to rethink its policies.