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Tillerson: ‘No Disagreement on North Korea’ Between Trump, Xi

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says “there is no disagreement on North Korea” between the United States and China following talks in Beijing between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Tillerson, who is in the Chinese capital with Trump, spoke with reporters Thursday after the two leaders held bilateral talks focused on North Korea and trade. He said the two men also had frank exchanges on human rights and maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Concerning Pyongyang, he said the Chinese have been clear and unequivocal over two days of talks that they will not accept a North Korea with nuclear weapons.

“There’s no space between both of our objectives,” Tillerson said. “We have our own views of the tactics, the timing and how far to go with pressure and that’s what we spend a lot of time exchanging views on.”

Trump, according to Tillerson, told Xi: “You’re a strong man, I’m sure you can solve this for me.”

WATCH: Trump: Civilized World Must Unite Against North Korea

North Korea

Earlier President Trump said the United States and China must work together to liberate the region and the world from what he called the very serious threat posed by the “murderous regime in North Korea.

Trump made the comment as he stood alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping as they delivered successive prepared remarks, but did not take questions from journalists.

Trump added that Washington and Beijing agreed “not to repeat the mistakes of the past” in dealing with Pyongyang, which over the years has managed to rapidly advance its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Trump earlier said excellent progress was made in his talks with Xi.

“The entire civilized world must unite to confront the North Korean menace,” he added.

In his prepared remarks, Xi’s tone was more muted regarding North Korea, saying, “We reiterated the firm commitment to denuclearize the peninsula.”

“I believe there is a solution to that, as you do,” Trump told Xi during an extended bilateral meeting on Thursday morning in the Chinese capital.

Later, while he and Xi spoke to a meeting of business leaders, Trump said, “I thank President Xi for his recent efforts to restrict trade with North Korea and cut off banking ties. China can fix this problem easily and quickly.”

Bilateral trade

The talks between Trump and Xi are also dealing with bilateral trade, a touchy subject because Trump has long complained about the trade imbalance between China and the United States.

Tillerson said, “The things that have been achieved thus far are pretty small,” despite long hours of trade talks between the U.S. and China, adding the U.S. concerns about the pace of progress was communicated to Chinese officials Thursday.

For the first 10 months of the year, China’s trade surplus with the U.S. was $223 billion, according to recent data released by China’s General Administration of Customs.

Trump said the U.S. trade deficit with China is, “shockingly hundreds of billions of dollars” annually. “Past administrations allowed it to get so far out of kilter. But I don’t blame China. I give China great credit,” Trump said.

WATCH: Trump: US Is Very Behind on Trade With China

President Xi said there is a wider and prosperous future for U.S.-China cooperation on trade, adding that $250 billion worth of business deals were signed during President Trump’s visit to China and that, “Chinese investment in the United States is rising rapidly.”

But the roughly 15 agreements unveiled in Beijing are mostly non-binding memorandums of understanding and, according to Bloomberg News “could take years to materialize — if they do at all.”

Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute is pessimistic that such deals will do much to address the real hindrances to trade relations with China.

“The president likes deals, and he likes big numbers, but we’re not going to change something he doesn’t like, like the trade deficit without changing Chinese trade practices,” Scissors said. “China has to have a different approach to trade in the world than it does.”

Scissors said that more than the deficit, it is what is behind the numbers, such as the fact that Chinese state owned enterprises never go out of business.

“Which means American goods and services can’t ever win in the China market,” he said.

WATCH: Xi: The China-US Relationship Is at a New Starting Point

In his joint statement, Xi said “there needs to be in-depth discussions on the trade imbalance” with the United States, among other issues.

The Chinese leader predicted “there will be a wider and prosperous future for cooperation on trade,” specifically mentioning the oil and gas sector, beer, agricultural products, education and service contracts. He also invited more American companies to participate in China’s One Belt One Road initiative, an effort to create the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation, inspired by the ancient Silk Road trading network.

The United States and China, respectively, have the world’s largest economies and most powerful militaries.

The two leaders walked side by side on a red carpet at a welcoming ceremony early Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The U.S. and Chinese national anthems were played by a military band and ceremonial cannon fire from Tiananmen Square saluted Trump. An exuberant crowd of school children waved U.S. and Chinese flags.

Business deals

The Trump administration is showcasing several business deals signed during the China trip, including a deal for China’s biggest online retailer to buy $1.2 billion of American beef and pork.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said such business deals “are a good example” of how the United States “can productively build up our bilateral trade.”

Trump also met Thursday with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, whose position is similar to that of a prime minister.

Trump and his wife, Melania, were received with great pageantry on their arrival to China. The Trumps were also treated to a private visit to the Forbidden City, China’s ancient imperial palace. They also viewed an outdoor opera featuring costumes, music and martial arts.

WATCH: Trump Message to North Korean Leader

The U.S. president arrived in Beijing a day after delivering a speech in Seoul, South Korea, in which he called on other nations to unite and “isolate the brutal regime of North Korea.” “You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept,” he added.

In that speech to South Korea’s National Assembly, Trump had a forceful message for Pyongyang. He called on leader Kim Jong Un to give up all his nuclear weapons for a chance to step on to “a better path.”

Trump warned the North, “Do not underestimate us and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity and our sacred liberty.”

Backing the president’s words was the presence of three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups and nuclear submarines, which the president said “are appropriately positioned” near the Korean Peninsula.

Quote of the Day:
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

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