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Xi, Tillerson seek stronger ties

Pool Photo via AP

U.S. State of Secretary Rex Tillerson shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sunday.

AFP-Jiji BEIJING (AFP-Jiji) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged in talks Sunday to work to strengthen a relationship strained by disputes over North Korea and trade.

Xi met Tillerson in Beijing just hours after nuclear-armed North Korea tested the U.S.-China relationship anew by announcing a provocative rocket engine trial, and with delicate negotiations under way for a Xi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Xi told Tillerson that he and Trump had resolved in a phone call last month “to make joint efforts to advance China-U.S. cooperation, and we believe that we can make sure the relationship will move ahead in a constructive fashion in the new era.”

“I’m confident that as long as we can do this the relationship can surely move in the right direction,” Xi said.

En route to Beijing, Tillerson visited U.S. allies Japan and South Korea where he declared Washington would drop the “failed” approach of “strategic patience” with Pyongyang — adding that U.S. military action against North Korea was possible. That marked a sharp break with China, which favors careful diplomacy over heated rhetoric.

Relations have also been strained by China’s fierce opposition to a U.S. missile defense system being rolled out in South Korea and Trump’s Twitter accusation on Friday that China was not doing enough to control Pyongyang, its neighbor and historic ally.Speech

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