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North Korea tops agenda for Rex Tillerson’s China visit

By CBS/AP 12:20 PM March 18, 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday pushed for closer China-U.S. cooperation on dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program in his first face-to-face talks with top Chinese diplomats.

When Tillerson arrived in the country, he stepped into an arena where the U.S. is facing a barrage of challenges from trade to the South China Sea, but America’s biggest foreign policy problem – North Korea – topped the agenda, CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz reports. Tillerson has to win over China to have any hope of combating the threat from the North.

Tillerson’s visit to Beijing followed his remarks in South Korea on Friday in which he warned that pre-emptive military action against North Korea might be necessary if the threat from its weapons program reaches a level “that we believe requires action.”

China, the North’s biggest source of diplomatic support and economic assistance, hasn’t responded directly to his remarks, although Beijing has called repeatedly for all sides to take steps to reduce tensions.

Tillerson stressed the need for a “results oriented” relationship with China in comments following his meeting Saturday with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“We renewed our determination to work together to convince North Korea to choose a better path and a different future for its people,” Tillerson said.

He said Wang agreed on the need for a “course correction” with Pyongyang. Bringing North Korea “to a different place” is a matter to be approached with “a sense of urgency,” Tillerson said.

Wang restated Beijing’s calls for dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea and called Tillerson’s visit an important step toward a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart, President Trump, expected next month.

Tillerson met later with Yang Jiechi, Xi’s top foreign policy adviser. He is scheduled to meet with Xi on Sunday morning before returning to the U.S.

Continue reading on CBSNews.com

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