The meeting between Rex Tillerson (L) and Xi Jinping came hours after nuclear-armed North Korea tested the US-China relationship once more by announcing a rocket engine trial.
The meeting between Rex Tillerson (L) and Xi Jinping came hours after nuclear-armed North Korea tested the US-China relationship once more by announcing a rocket engine trial.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday in Beijing and told him that President Donald Trump anticipates a meeting "soon," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Xi and Tillerson agreed that opportunities exist for greater cooperation between the two countries, though differences remain, Toner said.

China was the third and last leg of Tillerson's first trip to Asia as Trump's secretary of state.

Strengthening relationship

Xi and Tillerson agreed to work towards strengthening a relationship strained by disputes over North Korea and trade.

Xi told Tillerson that he and Trump had agreed in a phone call last month "to make joint efforts to advance China-US cooperation."

"We believe that we can make sure the relationship will move ahead in a constructive fashion in the new era," Xi added.

The meeting came hours after nuclear-armed North Korea tested the US-China relationship once more by announcing a rocket engine trial.

Before arriving in China, Tillerson visited regional US allies Japan and South Korea where he declared Washington would drop the "failed" approach of "strategic patience" with Pyongyang, saying all options were on the table, including military action.

The threat of military action is at odds with China's approach to the DPRK, as Beijing favours careful diplomacy over heated rhetoric.

Relations have also been strained by China's fierce opposition to a US missile defence system being rolled out in South Korea.

On Friday Trump accused China of not doing enough to control Pyongyang, its neighbour and historic ally.

Trump has also repeatedly accused China of unfair trade practices.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies