Kerry met South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of a regional summit in Brunei to discuss tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Tensions escalated in the region when North Korea conducted a nuclear test in February, its third since 2006. Multilateral six-party talks between the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan stalled in 2009.
Kerry praised Park for her leadership in ensuring regional tensions didn't spiral out of control. He said the U.S. government applauds her "very measured and careful approach" to the situation, noting all parties were "on the same page" when it comes to denuclearization.
"We are very grateful for the significant role that you are currently playing on the global stage, and particularly our cooperation with respect to North Korea," he said in a statement Thursday.
Park met earlier this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping. She expressed concern that Pyongyang was putting its people in jeopardy by focusing too much on nuclear weapons.