BEIJING • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be in Beijing on Saturday for talks and to lay the groundwork for President Donald Trump's visit to China in November.
His trip is at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said yesterday.
Talks will include trade and the crisis over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, according to the US State Department.
Mr Tillerson's visit comes at a time of high tension between the United States and North Korea, China's neighbour and ally, which is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.
China has called for a return to dialogue.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Heather Nauert called China's steps to implement tougher United Nations sanctions on North Korea, after its recent missile and nuclear tests, "significant".
"We have a good relationship with China," she said, adding that this was evidenced by what would be Mr Tillerson's second visit to China in nine months in office.
"China has taken enormous steps in the right direction. There is always more that countries can do, but at this point, we want to thank China for the steps it has taken in the right direction."
Asked for details of Mr Tillerson's visit, Mr Lu told a regular news briefing that besides Mr Wang, the US State Secretary would also meet top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi.
Mr Tillerson's visit follows one by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who said on Monday that China needed to guarantee fair and reciprocal treatment for US companies, as he tried to strike an upbeat tone amid bilateral trade tension.
China-US relations have been strained by Mr Trump's criticism of China's trade practices and by demands that Beijing do more to rein in Pyongyang.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Trump met for the first time in Florida in April. The US leader has since played up his personal ties with Mr Xi, even while criticising China over North Korea and trade.