NEW YORK, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasized the need to resolve North Korea's nuclear provocations through dialogue during a keynote speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
But Li did not address new sanctions against Pyongyang, Yonhap reported.
China is considered to be a pivotal player in pressuring North Korea. Experts in the United States have said Beijing's role in enforcing sanctions along the North Korea border is key to the process.
During his 19-minute speech the Chinese prime minister spent less than 20 seconds on North Korea's violations of past U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions, focusing instead on expressing opposition to the rise of protectionist sentiments.
On North Korea Li said countries should focus on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and seek dialogue as well as negotiations to arrive at a solution on the nuclear issue.
Li used the term Korean peninsula rather than addressing the country of North Korea directly.
The Chinese premier also said countries should resolve territorial and maritime disputes through dialogue and negotiations, a reference to the ongoing dispute in the South China Sea over the Spratly Islands and Beijing's island-building activities.
Earlier this week President Obama had condemned North Korea's fifth nuclear test and met with Premier Li to discuss shared concerns. The two agreed to strengthen coordination to prevent North Korea's proliferation of weapons.
But on Wednesday Li focused primarily on the need to press on with a global economic recovery and stressed how China is opposed to protectionism, according to the South China Morning Post.
"Economic globalization is in the long term interest of all countries...all parties must resolutely oppose all kinds of protectionism, and to uphold the free trade system of the World Trade Organization," Li said.