The United States pressed China on Wednesday to exert more diplomatic and economic pressure to help rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs during a round of high-level talks in Washington, U S secretary of state Rex Tillerson said.
The defense chiefs and top diplomats of both countries met after President Donald Trump said Chinese efforts to use its leverage with Pyongyang had failed.
The death of American university student Otto Warmbier earlier this week, after being released after 17 months imprisonment in North Korea, has further fueled tensions. Trump’s aides say his top national security priority is North Korea.
We reiterated to China that they have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region.Rex Tillerson, United States secretary of state
But Tillerson also announced that Trump plans to make a state visit to China later this year, signaling that the president seeks improved relations with Beijing despite his frustrations over North Korea.
North Korea topped the agenda at the talks. Issues of territorial disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea and global counter-terrorism efforts were also discussed.
"The United States will continue to fly, sale and operate wherever international law allows," Mattis said, reflecting Washington’s determination to counter China's sweeping claims to the strategic waterway.
U S officials urged China to crack down on North Korean activities to cut funding to leadership.
The United States has made clear it would like to see an oil embargo and bans on the North Korean airline and guest workers among other moves, steps diplomats say have been resisted by China and Russia.
On Tuesday, a U.S. official said U.S. spy satellites had detected movements recently at NorthKorea's nuclear test site near a tunnel entrance, but it was unclear if Pyongyang was preparing for a new nuclear test, perhaps to coincide with Wednesday's high-level talks.