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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons poses a “growing threat” to the U.S. and its allies.

In a telephone call Tuesday evening to Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, Hagel cited North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and said Washington and Beijing should continue to cooperate on those problems.

“The secretary emphasized the growing threat to the U.S. and our allies posed by North Korea’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and expressed to General Chang the importance of sustained U.S.-China dialogue and cooperation on these issues,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement describing the phone call.

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