Trump keeps it friendly with Xi at G20 on North Korea threat

Xi stressed to Trump China's position that it adheres to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and maintaining peace and stability there.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. Reuters

US President Donald Trump took a conciliatory tone at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday. As a result of the discussion, the two leaders agreed to keep working on two pressing issues: the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and bilateral trade irritants.

Last year in his presidential election, Trump campaigned on cracking down on China for its trade practices. But, after taking his office, he softened his rhetoric saying that he wanted to work with China on the nuclear issue.

When the two leaders first met in April at Trump's Florida resort, they appeared to hit it off. Trump called Xi a "good man" as he urged him to use Beijing's economic clout to force North Korea to curb its nuclear weapons program.

However, in recent times, Trump has expressed some impatience on China's role in North Korea, particularly after Pyongyang fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that some experts believe could have the range to reach Alaska, and parts of the US West Coast.

His administration made new arms sales to Taiwan, imposed sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company and put China on a global human trafficking list. It also accused a Chinese bank of laundering money for Pyongyang.

The White House is also debating trade actions against Beijing, including tariffs on its steel exports and a few days before the G20 talks, Trump complained that trade between China and North Korea had grown.

But, he showed none of that impatience on Saturday, when the leaders met at the invitation of Xi at the tail end of the G20 in Germany. "It's an honor to have you as a friend," Trump told Xi, adding that he appreciated actions he had already taken on North Korea.

"As far as North Korea is concerned, we will have, eventually, success. It may take longer than I'd like. It may take longer than you'd like. But there will be success in the end one way or the other," Trump said.

In response to this, Xi told Trump that stronger China-US ties were conducive to stability and prosperity amid global conflicts, and had made "new progress" in some areas "despite some sensitive issues," Xi said.

According to state news agency Xinhua, Xi stressed on the importance of talks with North Korea, and said that China's navy will join will join next year's US-led Pacific Rim military exercises. Xinhua reported that Xi also stressed to Trump China's position that it adheres to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and maintaining peace and stability there.

Although, North Korea's repeated nuclear and missile tests have angered China, but, Beijing als blames the United States and South Korea for worsening tension with their military exercises. "China has many times talked about its principled position, namely that at the same time as the international community making necessary responses to North Korean acts that go against U.N. Security Council resolutions, they must step up efforts to promote talks and manage and control the situation," Xinhua cited Xi.

Xi also reiterated China's opposition to the US deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, Xinhua said. China says THAAD threatens its security, despite US and South Korean assurances it is aimed only at defending against North Korea.

Xinhua reported that both the leaders agreed to maintain close communication and coordination on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue. Trump also mentioned trade imbalances in his meeting with Xi, calling it a "very, very big issue" that he would address. "I know that China in particular, which is a great trading partner, we will be able to do something that will be equitable and reciprocal," Trump said.

On July 19, the senior officials from both countries will meet in Washington to discuss economic and trade issues.