U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday pushed for closer China-U.S. cooperation on dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program in his first face-to-face talks with top Chinese diplomats.
Tillerson’s visit to Beijing followed his remarks in South Korea on Friday in which he warned that pre-emptive military action against North Korea might be necessary if the threat from its weapons program reaches a level “that we believe requires action.”
Tillerson stressed the need for a “results oriented” relationship with China in comments following his meeting Saturday with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Wang restated Beijing’s calls for dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea and called Tillerson’s visit an important step toward a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, expected next month.
Tillerson met later with Yang Jiechi, Xi’s top foreign policy adviser. He is scheduled to meet with Xi on Sunday morning before returning to the U.S.
While China has agreed reluctantly to U.N. Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea, it is adamantly opposed to measures that might bring about a collapse of the North Korean regime and send waves of refugees into northeastern China while South Korean and American forces take up positions on its border.
Tillerson’s visit to Beijing is the final stop on his three-nation swing through Northeast Asia. State Department officials have described it as a “listening tour” as the administration seeks to coordinate with its Asian partners on a coherent North Korea policy.