Rex Tillerson, Wang Yi in highest-level US-China meet under Donald Trump

Bonn: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday that he used his first meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to urge Beijing to help rein in North Korea after its series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Their talks, the highest level Sino-US encounter since President Donald Trump was elected, had appeared unlikely after he infuriated Beijing by calling into question Washington's long-standing "One China" policy.

Trump however reaffirmed the position in a conciliatory phone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping, mending fences enough for Wang to come to Bonn for a G20 foreign ministers meeting.

"Secretary Tillerson and Minister Wang noted the recent call between leaders and discussed efforts to advance bilateral cooperation while addressing differences in a constructive manner," Mark Toner, acting US State Department spokesman, said.

Rex Tillerson. AP

Rex Tillerson. AP

"Secretary Tillerson also highlighted the increasing threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and urged China to use all available tools to moderate North Korea's destabilising behaviour," Toner said.

China is North Korea's last major ally and has shown itself reluctant to put too much pressure on Pyongyang.

In the meantime, reclusive North Korea has made huge strides in both its missile and nuclear weapons programme to the point where it could acquire the capability to hit the US mainland.

Washington has led international efforts to get Pyongyang to reverse course, including imposing sanctions, but all to no avail as its regional allies take fright at North Korea's ambitions.

On Thursday, Tillerson pledged that Washington would use the full range of its arsenal, including nuclear weapons, to defend Japan and South Korea against North Korea, which conducted another ballistic missile test on Sunday.

"The United States remains steadfast in its defence commitments to its allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan, including the commitment to provide extended deterrence, backed by the full range of its nuclear and conventional defence capabilities," Tillerson said in a joint statement with their foreign ministers.

Washington's recent decision to install a sophisticated THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea especially angered China which condemned the move as a potential threat to its own security.

Toner said Tillerson and Yang "also discussed the need to create a level playing field for trade and investment."

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Updated Date: Feb 17, 2017 19:33:48 IST

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