BEIJING - US President Donald Trump minced no words over the North Korean nuclear crisis in his visit to China, telling his Chinese counterpart and host Xi Jinping he needs to "work on it very hard".
"Time is running out and we have to act fast," said the American leader as he and Mr Xi witnessed the signing of industrial and financial deals yesterday that totalled more than US$250 billion including another US$9 billion signed the day before.
North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes have been a sticking point between the two powers, with the US wanting China to do more to rein in Pyongyang but Beijing reluctant to take measures that could destabilise its impoverished neighbour and close ally.
Under its young leader, Kim Jong Un, North Korea has in recent years tested nuclear bombs and medium and long-range missiles with greater frequency and increasing success.
Observers have said it is close to making nuclear weapons small enough to mount onto missiles. And in recent months, Pyongyang has tested inter-continental ballistic missiles with a range as long as to Chicago in the heart of continental US.
The tests led Mr Trump to ratchet up the rhetoric, threatening "fire and fury" on the Asian state while Pyongyang in turn called the US leader a "strangler of peace" and threatened to strike at Guam, a US military base in the Pacific.
Mr Trump, who visited security allies Japan and South Korea before arriving in Beijing on Wednesday, was more restrained in a speech in Seoul, offering North Korea a path "to a much better future" while also calling on countries including China and Russia to do their part in isolating the secretive regime.
"We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology," he said in his address to the South Korean National Assembly.
Yesterday in Beijing, on the second of his three-day state visit, Mr Trump told the media he and the Chinese leader discussed "mutual commitment to the complete denuclearisation of North Korea".
Mr Xi affirmed this, showing the two sides shared the same goal of a Korean peninsula without nuclear weapons.
The Chinese leader also said the two sides would continue to "fully and strictly" implement UNSC resolutions and work towards a solution "through dialogue and negotiation".
He added that the two sides will maintain communication and cooperation on the Korean peninsula.
Chinese analyst Su Hao of China Foreign Affairs University said comments by the leaders suggested the two sides had reached consensus on North Korea including on political coordination to lower tensions.
While noting this appeared to be progress made on North Korea, Professor Su said both sides would still have their differences and the US would continue to pressure China over the issue.