BEIJING (Reuters) – China hopes both it and the United States can increase their coordination on the North Korea issue, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi told U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting in Washington, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
The United States has repeatedly pressed China, North Korea’s most significant trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.
China says it is committed to fully enforcing United Nations resolutions on North Korea, which include sweeping sanctions, but that all parties must make more efforts to reduce tensions and get the talks process re-started.
Meeting on Friday in the White House, State Councillor Yang, who outranks the foreign minister, told Trump he hopes both countries can work hard together and “strengthen coordination on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue”, China’s Foreign Ministry said.
The statement gave no further details on their discussions on North Korea.
China has said it hopes the thaw in ties between North and South Korea over this month’s Winter Olympics, happening in South Korea, can be translated over into regular talks between the two and even to talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
Yang’s Washington visit has also come amid trade tensions between China and the United States, and continuing differences over the disputed South China Sea and self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as its own but which is armed mainly by Washington.
Yang said both countries should “manage and control their disputes and sensitive issues properly”, though the statement also gave no details.
Yang met too with White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, and had an exchange of views on strengthening bilateral ties and cooperation on international issues, the ministry added, again without giving details.
Yang, a career diplomat, has emerged as one of China’s main conduits for talking to the Trump administration and has deep experience dealing with the United States.
Unlike Foreign Minister Wang Yi, he is a fluent English speaker, having studied at the London School of Economics in the 1970s before working as a translator for the foreign ministry.
He was first posted to the United States from 1983-87, and eventually rose to become ambassador, from 2000-2004.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Lincoln Feast)