Tillerson ends China trip with warm words from President Xi

China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. State of Secretary, Rex Tillerson at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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BEIJING – With warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues.

China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes and the U.S. decision to base an advanced missile defence system in South Korea.

Beijing is also deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions towards self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, with the Trump administration crafting a big new arms package for the island that is bound to anger China.

But meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, those issues were brushed aside by Xi and Tillerson, at least in front of reporters, with Xi saying Tillerson had made a lot of efforts to achieve a smooth transition in a new era of relations.

“You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Xi said.

Xi said he had communicated with President Donald Trump several times through telephone conversations and messages.

“We both believe that China-U.S. cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development,” Xi said.

“The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for us both,” Xi added, in comments carried by China’s Foreign Ministry.   Continued…

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