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Tillerson disputes reports that he shortened South Korea trip because of 'fatigue'

20 March 2017

After talks, Tillerson said the USA would work with China to deal with threats posed by North Korea, which is also a close ally of Beijing.

Prior to Tillerson speaking to the press about the meeting, President Donald Trump tweeted that China had done very little about North Korea. While agreeing with Tillerson about the North Korean nuclear threat, Minister Wang said the only way to persuade Pyongyang to disarm is through dialogue, such as a renewal of the long-stalled six-party talks between the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russian Federation.

"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 said.

However, Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi struck a more conciliatory tone in their meeting, with Tillerson saying Washington and Beijing would work together to get nuclear-armed North Korea take "a different course".

North Korea recently launched four missiles, with the apparent, and unsuccessful, aim of hitting US airbases in Japan.

North Korea has emerged as a major issue during Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's first official trip to Asia this week.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the announcement after talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing.

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On Friday, concerns about North Korea prompted a missile evacuation drill on Japan's coast, where more than 100 residents of a town heard sirens and were told to take cover in an exercise that's seen as unprecedented.

The Trump administration is crafting a new arms package for the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own. Trump placed a "very high value on the communications that have already occurred" between Xi and the United States president.

China and the U.S. must strengthen coordination of hot regional issues, respect each other's core interests and major concerns, and protect the broad stability of ties, he said.

"In return, North Korea has detonated nuclear weapons, and dramatically increased its launches of ballistic missiles to threaten America and our allies", he said.

China in the past has vehemently opposed U.S. naval ships and bombers passing through the disputed South China Sea, saying the United States is militarising the region by deliberately sending military vessels. "But this 20 years of talking has brought us to the point we are today", Tillerson told reporters.

He also urged Beijing to drop any retaliatory action against South Korea, amid allegations businesses and the tourism industry is being punished for Seoul's stance on the issue.

Tillerson is also in Beijing to iron out the details of a tentative Florida summit in April between Trump and China's President.