Tillerson calls on China to rein in North Korea

Mr Tillerson and Mr Wang at the Group of 20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday. Their meeting yesterday was the highest-level Sino-US encounter since President Trump was elected.
Mr Tillerson and Mr Wang at the Group of 20 foreign ministers' meeting in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday. Their meeting yesterday was the highest-level Sino-US encounter since President Trump was elected.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

US says Beijing urged to 'use all available tools to moderate North's destabilising behaviour'

BONN • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has used his first meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to urge Beijing to help rein in North Korea after its series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Their talks yesterday, 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 longstanding "One China" policy.

Mr Trump, however, reaffirmed the position in a conciliatory phone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping, mending fences enough for Mr Wang to come to Bonn for a Group of 20 foreign ministers' meeting.

Taiwan has been ruled separately since Mao Zedong's communists ousted China's nationalists, who fled to the island in 1949.

Although Washington severed ties with Taiwan in 1979, it has retained close links with Taipei.

"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," said Mr Mark Toner, acting US State Department spokesman.

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

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.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2017, with the headline 'Tillerson calls on China to rein in North Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe