U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials Saturday on issues including trade, North Korea and preparations for an anticipated visit by President Donald Trump to China in November.
Tillerson told top Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi that Trump and Xi had developed a “very regular and close working relationship.”
His visit, Tillerson said, also provided an opportunity to assess progress made between the sides since Xi and Trump met in April at the U.S. president’s estate in Florida.
Tillerson is making his second visit as secretary of state to the world’s No. 2 economy and chief American rival for influence in Asia, and increasingly, the world.
Along with Xi and Yang, he met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who told Tillerson that China-U.S. relations “overall have a positive momentum and have arrived at an important opportunity to progress further.”
Neither Tillerson nor the Chinese officials mentioned North Korea in opening remarks made in the presence of journalists.
Ties between Beijing and Washington are considered more crucial than ever with the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles entering a new, more dangerous phase as its leader, Kim Jong Un, and Trump exchange personal insults and threats of war with no sign of a diplomatic solution.
Trump has been pressing for tougher measures on Pyongyang from China, the North’s chief trading partner and source of aid and diplomatic support.
Although adamantly opposed to steps that could bring down Kim’s regime, Beijing appears increasingly willing to tighten the screws on Pyongyang, and agreed to tough new United Nations sanctions that would substantially cut foreign revenue for the isolated North.
On Thursday, Beijing ordered North Korean-owned businesses and ventures with Chinese partners to close by early January, days after it said it would cut off gas and limit shipments of refined petroleum products, effective Jan. 1. It made no mention of crude oil, which makes up the bulk of Chinese energy supplies to North Korea and is not covered by the U.N. sanctions.
China has also banned imports of North Korean coal, iron and lead ore, and…