Smoothly but warily, U.S. and China stick to script in Tillerson visit

Rutte 'lost friendship'

Donald Trump is looking forward to his first meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said.

But North Korea's continued progress towards putting a nuclear warhead on a missile capable of striking US territory has forced the North Korea issue to the forefront of U.S.

During his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, Tillerson said Washington and Beijing would work together to make Pyongyang change its course.

"And he looks forward to enhancing that understanding in the opportunity for a visit in the future".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson capped his Asia trip Sunday on a note of collaboration as leaders tried to reset the tense, uncertain relationship between China and the new Trump administration.

Though his warnings about the possibility of eventual military action over North Korea have raised hackles here, Tillerson received a warm welcome from China's president on Sunday.

China hasn't responded directly to those comments, although Beijing has called repeatedly for all sides to take steps in reducing tensions.

Since the Korean War ended with an armistice nearly 65 years ago, relations between the USA and North Korea have often been on a scary roller-coaster ride - another military confrontation always in the offing.

At a press conference on Saturday with his Chinese counterpart, Tillerson noted that the US would continue to raise thorny issues with China, including maritime disputes in the South China Sea, as well as human rights and religious freedoms.

Xi told Tillerson that there are more shared interests between the USA and China than there are disputes or conflicts.

The administration of President Donald Trump has come under fire for proposing to slash the State Department's budget by almost a third, as well as for the slow pace of nominating top officials.

-China unity anew with a provocative rocket engine test, and with negotiations under way for a potential Xi summit next month with Trump in the United States.

"No matter what happens, we have to stay committed to diplomatic means as a way to seek peaceful settlement", he said.

He also said that he hoped Washington would examine Beijing's plans to defuse tensions, although Tillerson has already dismissed the proposal that the USA should drop joint military exercises with South Korea as a show of good faith to Pyongyang.

"North Korea is behaving badly". The North conducted two nuclear test explosions and 24 ballistic missile tests previous year.

Mr Tillerson met the Chinese leader in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, as his East Asian tour comes to an end.

Tillerson says diplomatic efforts have failed, and has not ruled out eventual military action.

Undeterred by United Nations sanctions, North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches.

Tillerson's visit to Asia - he went to Japan and South Korea before China - was closely watched.

Christian rights lawyer Zhang Peihong, who has represented Christian activists in China, said he had not expected Tillerson to make a big deal about human rights. But he has since backed down and affirmed longstanding US policy that the democratic island is part of a united China - a major victory for the Communist nation, which considers the issue unassailable.