US, China agree to jointly address N Korea threats

Posted March 20, 2017

Tillerson arrived in Beijing earlier Saturday after visits to United States allies Japan and South Korea where he said the United States would no longer observe the "failed" approach of patient diplomacy, warning that American military action against the North was an option "on the table".

Tillerson was speaking at a news conference following talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, the start of his first trip to Asia as secretary of state.

Tillerson's remarks are consistent with those of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who told the Today Show (Matt Lauer with the scoops!) last week that "we're all aware military action could be an option" and North Korea is the free world's "absolute, number-one threat". China says it is committed to enforcing United Nations sanctions on North Korea, but all sides have a responsibility to lessen tensions and get back to the negotiating table.

He said Wang and he agreed to work together to persuade North Korea "make a course correction and move away from the development of their nuclear weapons".

"We hope all parties including our friends from the United States could size up the situation in a cool-headed and comprehensive fashion and arrive at a wise decision", Wang said. If that was his meaning, the threat was premature, because the USA has other ways to deter North Korea. Tillerson affirmed China and the US's commitment to prevent further escalation of tension in the region.

Minister Wang said the topic was discussed, but did not elaborate further. He said issues related to the disputed South China Sea where Trump administration has criticised Beijing's island building were also discussed. But Chinese official repeatedly say they do not have the influence over North Korea that Washington and others believe.

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Tillerson said in talks with Xi in Beijing that Trump places a "very high value" on communications with the Chinese president.

North Korea has a long-standing ambition to become a nuclear power and conducted its first underground atomic test in 2006, in the teeth of global opposition.

China has also been infuriated by the deployment of the Thaad, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, missile defense system in South Korea, which it says will both harm China's own security and do nothing to ease tensions.

It follows what he said had been two decades of failure to stop the rogue state developing nuclear weapons.

The two state leaders are likely to meet at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida early next month for a two-day summit, according to media reports, though there has been no official announcement yet.

China in the past has vehemently opposed USA naval ships and bombers passing through the disputed South China Sea, saying the United States is militarising the region by deliberately sending military vessels.