China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi met U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday in the highest-level contact between the world’s two biggest economies since the election as concerns over North Korea’s nuclear program overshadow campaign tensions over trade. Yang relayed greetings from President Xi Jinping in the meeting with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and senior adviser Jared Kushner at the White House, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Tensions between the U.S. and China on how to handle North Korea have escalated since Trump accused Beijing of not doing enough to curb Kim’s nuclear ambitions. North Korea has accelerated its development of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles since 2009, when it walked away from six-party talks involving China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S.
The U.S. is considering branding North Korea as state sponsor of terrorism, Yonhap News reported Tuesday, citing a high-level South Korean government official. Representatives of the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Washington to discuss the situation Monday.
Beijing’s leaders have called for a new round of talks on North Korea as they seek to rein in Kim Jong Un and halt American plans to deploy a missile-defense system known as Thaad in South Korea, in part on concerns that it will undermine China’s own security. North Korea hit out at China last week after it banned coal imports, saying it was “dancing to the tune of the U.S.”
Meanwhile, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ri Kil Song arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for possible talks with Chinese officials, Japan’s Kyodo News reported, citing one of its journalists. It marks the first known visit to China by a high-ranking North Korean official since around June last year.