John Kerry criticises North Korea's 'illegal' regime
US Secretary of State John Kerry has described North Korea's government as "an illegal and illegitimate regime".
Mr Kerry used the unusually tough language as he met Kuwait foreign minister Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah on Friday and credited the Gulf nation for its efforts in countering the North's proliferation activities.
Kuwait has "recently taken steps to curb flights and to make sure that revenues from workers are not sustaining an illegal and illegitimate regime in North Korea", Mr Kerry said.
The US routinely condemns North Korea's nuclear and missile tests as violations of UN Security Council resolutions and is also deeply critical of the North's human-rights record.
It is less typical for US officials to question directly the legitimacy of the hereditary regime of leader Kim Jong Un.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said Mr Kerry's comments reflected deep US concern over illegal and provocative actions by Mr Kim's government and did not signal a policy change.
"The actions of the North Korean regime are what give the international community such concern, and he was speaking to the fact that those actions, the provocative behaviour that the regime continues to display, are absolutely violations of international law," Mr Kirby added.
He said the US wants to see a return to long-stalled aid-for-disarmament talks.