Tillerson in China to Discuss North Korea

Tillerson in China to Discuss North Korea

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures while shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before a bilateral meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, March 18, 2017.


WASHINGTON —

The top U.S. diplomat is in China on the third and final leg of his first Asia tour, focusing on North Korea and its nuclear and missile programs.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Saturday in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

Tillerson said at the start of the meeting “there are many opportunities for us to explore areas of mutual interest, but also to address areas of differences between our two countries and expand cooperation. …”

The secretary plans meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping Sunday.

Tillerson’s talks with Chinese officials are expected to be somewhat thorny. Earlier in the week, the secretary called on China to step up its efforts to encourage North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. He also encouraged China to fully implement U.N. sanctions meant to pressure the North Korean government.

North Korea focus

On Friday, Tillerson said the policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended, and that military action against Pyongyang is “an option on the table.”

Speaking in Seoul, Tillerson said “North Korea must understand the only way to a secure, economically prosperous future” is for it “to abandon its development of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.”

In a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson said a “comprehensive set of capabilities” is being created to deal with the isolated country.

On the first leg of his tour in Japan, Tillerson said Thursday in Tokyo “it is clear that a different approach is required” after 20 years of failed diplomatic efforts to prevent North Korea from having nuclear weapons.

New way forward

He said part of the reason he is in the region is to exchange views with Japan, South Korea and China on other ways forward.

“North Korea and its people need not fear the United States or their neighbors in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea,” Tillerson said at a joint news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.”With this in mind, the United States calls on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and refrain from any further provocations.”

He further pledged U.S. commitment to defending Japan and other allies “is unwavering.”



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