WASHINGTON — China’s foreign minister urged the United States to soften its saber rattling against North Korea, after secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that military action is “on the table” as one option to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Tillerson arrived in China on Saturday, where he said that tensions with North Korean had reached a “dangerous level” and urged China to help pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions, according to The Washington Post.
China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, called for a “coolheaded” approach to the situation and urged the U.S. not to abandon diplomacy.
“No matter what happens, we have to stay committed to diplomatic means as a way to seek peaceful settlement,” Yi said, according to the Post. “We hope all parties, including our friends from the United States, could size up the situation in a coolheaded and comprehensive fashion, and arrive at a wise decision.”
Tillerson is on his first trip to Asia as Trump’s top diplomat, making stops in Japan, South Korea and China.
On Friday, Tillerson signaled a more aggressive approach to North Korea, saying the “policy of strategic patience has ended” and suggesting the Trump administration would consider military, diplomatic and economic measures to persuade North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
North Korea recently launched four missiles, with the apparent, and unsuccessful, aim of hitting U.S. airbases in Japan.
Tillerson stressed the need for a “results-oriented” relationship with China in comments following his meeting with Wang on Saturday.
“We renewed our determination to work together to convince North Korea to choose a better path and a different future for its people,” he said.
Tillerson 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,” he 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.
Contributing: The Associated Press