Pentagon chief blasts N.Korea over US student who died

North Korea

Top diplomats and defence chiefs from the United States and China began a day of talks in Washington on Wednesday looking for ways to press North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

Beijing, which wants resumed USA negotiations with North Korea, was hoping for "positive outcomes" from Wednesday's dialogue, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. North Korea hasn't conducted a nuclear test explosion as feared earlier this year but has kept up its rapid pace of missile launches.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Chief of Joint Staff General Fang Fenghui, during the inaugural Diplomatic Secretary Dialogue on Wednesday. Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week after nearly a year and a half in captivity, died Monday, June 19, his family said. Washington, therefore, considers "secondary sanctions" against Chinese banks and companies that continue to cooperate with North Korea.

"In order to resolve the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, China has been making unremitting efforts and we have been playing an important and constructive role", Mr Geng said.

Trump, who frequently denounced China on the campaign trail, has turned to Beijing to help pressure its ally North Korea, prompting concern among Asian partners that the U.S. might go easy on disputes in the South China Sea, where Taiwan also has claims.

"China understands that the United States regards North Korea as our top security threat", Tillerson said.

Mattis cited that the dialogue also touched upon the resolution of maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Looking ahead, the two sides pledged to expand mutually-beneficial cooperation and manage differences on the basis of mutual respect, all in a bid to promote the steady development of China-U.S. relations in the long term. "At least I know China tried!" the president wrote.

The two leaders met in Florida in April and Trump has praised Xi for working on the issue, despite only modest steps so far by Beijing.

Asked whether Trump had lost faith in China's ability to restrain North Korea, Mattis said the president's view represented Americans' "frustration" with Pyongyang's provocations and after seeing "a young man go over there healthy, and with a minor act of mischief, come home dead, basically".

The talks followed what a US official said on Tuesday were new movements detected by USA spy satellites at North Korea's nuclear test site. A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had limited options to rein in North Korea without Chinese assistance.

The talks are meant to build on progress made when President Donald Trump met China's president in Florida in April.

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