Rex Tillerson, china turn up heat on N. Korea

Tillerson earlier Friday had said US military force is an option for dealing with North Korea's pursuit of missile and nuclear weapons.

The US and China have been at odds over how to approach North Korea's nuclear weapons program for years, with the US looking for China to impose more sanctions, and China looking for negotiations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, have held talks in Beijing and sent out a message that they would work to strengthen ties between their countries.

"[The] overall China-US relationship really needs better clarity that can only be achieved by a meeting between our two leaders - a face-to-face meeting - and some time for them to be together and some time for us to exchange views", he said.

"We will work together to see if we can not bring the government in Pyongyang to a place where they want to make a different course, make a course correction, and move away from the development of nuclear weapons". Last week, Wang had said that North Korea, and US and South Korea, were like "accelerating trains" headed towards each other, AP reported. Before arriving in Beijing Tillerson had pointedly kept open the option of USA military action against North Korea.

During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly railed against the trade imbalance between the US and China.

Tillerson is also in Beijing to iron out the details of a tentative Florida summit in April between Trump and China's President.

Despite fiery rhetoric on the campaign trail and prior to his inauguration, Trump and his administration have taken a relatively hands off approach to China so far.

Tillerson is on his first trip to Asia as Trump's top diplomat, making stops in Japan, South Korea and China. In a videotaped conversation at the border village of Panmunjom with a reporter from Fox News the US Secretary of State said that "Nothing has been taken off the table" when asked if he would rule out nuclearization of the peninsula. But military analysts believe the test of the new rocket engine would further advance North Korea's goal of being able to create a long-range missile that could reach the United States.

"We believe that we can make sure the relationship will move ahead in a constructive fashion in the new era. China has done little to help!" tweeted Trump in response.

Xi told the visiting secretary: "We should properly handle and manage sensitive issues to promote the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relationship from a new start", adding that the cooperative relationship between the two big economies is "the only correct option". A more conciliatory tone was likely necessary given that Tillerson's visit was meant to set up the agenda for a summit meeting between Xi and Trump in early April (although no dates were announced during Tillerson's trip).

The US and China still do not see eye-to-eye on multiple issues, including the One China policy - that denies worldwide recognition to Taiwan as an independent state, political freedom in Hong Kong, and the rights of the country's Tibetan minority.

  • Leroy Wright