Annual joint US-South Korea exercises are non-negotiable and will continue as planned amid threats from the North, a top US military official said.
"If the president comes to us with a decision to use military force, we will provide him with options".
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking military officer of the United States Armed Forces, traveled to Beijing to meet with his approximate Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and one of China's highest ranking military officials.
"My advice to our leadership is that we not dial back our exercises". Somewhat unusually, the meeting has been reported on by Chinese media in detail. The Northern Theater Command is the Chinese unified command nearest North Korea.
The official's comments come after Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, told Dunford that Beijing believes the only effective way to solve the crisis is through talks.
"Although we might not share the same perspective on numerous hard issues", he said, "we do share the same commitment to solve them".
Gen Dunford agreed a military solution would be "horrific" but went on to say "what's unimaginable to me is not a military option".
There are many hard issues between the United States and China but both share a commitment to work through them, the United States' top general said on Tuesday during a visit to Beijing amid tension over nuclear-armed North Korea.
The tentative interest in diplomacy follows unusually combative threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea amid worries that Pyongyang is nearing its long-sought goal of accurately being able to send a nuclear missile to the USA mainland.
The annual joint drills, which involve tens of thousands of USA and South Korean troops, have been deemed a preparation for war by North Korea. The liquid-fuel missile is created to be fired from road mobile launchers and has been previously described by North Korea as built for attacking Alaska and Hawaii.
China and the United States, the world's two largest economies, say they are committed to having a stable military-to-military relationship, but there are deep fault lines.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution earlier this month, which will slap new sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for its repeated ballistic missile testing and continued efforts to develop nuclear weapons. That plan was supported by Germany. "But we needed to seriously have a conversation about what might happen if there was military action", the chairman said. Kim said North Korea would conduct the launches if the "Yankees persist in their extremely unsafe reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity", and that the United States should "think reasonably and judge properly" to avoid shaming itself, the news agency said. Dunford said he discussed the US approach to the North, which is based on diplomatic and economic pressure.