BEIJING − U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Thursday to keep enforcing U.N. sanctions on North Korea until it rids itself of nuclear weapons.
"We agreed on the need to fully implement all U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea and to increase economic pressure until North Korea abandons its reckless and dangerous path," Trump said at a joint news conference with Xi after their meeting in Beijing.
The two leaders also agreed to step up efforts to address the billowing U.S. trade deficit with China, and as part of such efforts, they oversaw the signing of about $250 billion in business deals between U.S. and Chinese companies in areas such as energy, aviation and manufacturing.
While Trump urged China to do more to force North Korea to curb its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, Xi, however, stressed the importance of dialogue in achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
"The two sides will continue to fully and strictly implement U.N. Security Council (sanctions) resolutions and stay committed to solving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiation," Xi said.
China, maintaining that sanctions and pressure alone are not sufficient, has called on the parties involved to peacefully resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation.
Despite the reaffirmation to achieve a "complete, verifiable and permanent denuclearization" of North Korea, "clearly, we have our own views of the tactics and the timing and how far to go with pressure, and that's what we spent a lot of time exchanging views on," U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters after the Trump-Xi meeting.
Speaking at a business event earlier in the day, Trump said, "China can fix this problem easily and quickly," and urged Beijing to cut financial links with Pyongyang.
China accounts for about 90 percent of North Korea's total trade and is a major supplier of oil to the country, leading critics to call Beijing an economic enabler of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, especially when the latter is stepping up its development of nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the continental United States.
Trump called on Xi, who also attended the event, to "work on it very hard," saying, "Time is quickly running out and we have to act fast."
Before the summit talks at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, a senior White House official said there were still financial links between Beijing and Pyongyang that should not exist under U.N. sanctions.
On the economic front, Trump called for "fair" trade between the world's two biggest economies in an effort to reduce the massive U.S. goods trade deficit with China, which totaled some $347 billion last year, by far the largest deficit with any trading partner.
Trump told the post-meeting news conference that he and Xi discussed "concrete steps" the two countries will take in addressing what the U.S. leader called "the massive trade distortion." Such steps will focus on China's market access restrictions and technology transfer requirements that prevent American companies from fairly competing in China.
At the business event, in an apparent face-saving gesture to Xi, Trump said he does not blame China for the "very one-sided and unfair" trade relationship.
"Who can blame a country for taking advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?" he said. "I give China great credit."
Instead, Trump pointed the finger at past U.S. administrations for allowing the trade imbalance to persist.
Referring to the $250 billion business deals involving companies such as Boeing Co., General Electric Co. and Qualcomm Inc., Trump said, "Just by looking at the tremendous, incredible job-producing agreements just signed by those major companies, we are off to a very, very good start."
Among other issues, Trump and Xi had "a frank exchange" on maritime security issues and the South China Sea, Tillerson said, suggesting the two sides remained at odds over the contentious issues.
Tillerson said the United States upholds freedom of navigation that claims to be consistent with international law, and that claimants should stop construction and militarization of outposts, taking aim at Beijing's militarization of outposts in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
China has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan in the South China Sea. It has refused to comply with last year's international tribunal ruling that invalidated the country's claims across almost the entire sea.
Trump is on the third leg of a five-nation Asian trip, his first to the region since taking office in January and which will also take him to Vietnam and the Philippines. He traveled to Japan and South Korea before arriving in Beijing on Wednesday for a three-day state visit.