TODAY   |  April 13, 2013

Kerry works with Chinese to ease tension in North Korea

Secretary of State John Kerry did not mince words when he met with China’s President Xi Jinping, telling the new leader that this is a critical time with challenging issues on the Korean Peninsula. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> now to the latest from north korea . the u.s. is trying to downplay the country's firepower ahead of an expected missile test. it comes as secretary of state john kerry meets with chinese officials asking for their help in reigning in kim jong -un. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell is traveling with secretary kerry . andrea, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you, lester. secretary kerry believes the best hope is china to get north korea not to launch that test and as the world awaits, the north korean military is in readiness locked and loaded. the missile, at least one perhaps two are fueled and ready to go perhaps as early as today or in the next couple of days to celebrate the anniversary of the founder, the grandfather of the current leader. the best hope according to the u.s. and the reason why john kerry is in beijing is to try to get china the closest ally, the economic ally and supporter of north korea to persuade it to back down. so far china has helped rhetorically but not done enough. today in meetings with the new chinese leader, kerry spoke bluntly saying we face challenges on north korea and iran and other nuclear states and syria in the middle east and he says let's talk about those challenges and how we can reframe them. he said we're going to be frank in our discussion in a diplomatic contest that is blunt indeed and very direct and now they are proceeding with further talks with other chinese leaders as this meeting, critical meeting, continues.

>> andrea mitchell in beijing for