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Sino-US relations

US, China to hold economic talks, amid tensions over North Korea

Talks to take place in Washington after US President Donald Trump previously suggested he would use trade to pressure China into reining in Pyonyang’s weapons programme

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 10:54am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 10:54am

Senior US and Chinese officials will meet to discuss economic issues this month after threats by US President Donald Trump to use trade to pressure Beijing to do more to rein in North Korea’s weapons programmes, a US official with knowledge of the decision said.

The meeting of the US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue will take place in Washington on July 19 and will be the first covering economic and trade issues in a new format agreed after a summit between Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in April.

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Trump pledged repeatedly during his election campaign to take a tough stance on Chinese trade practices deemed unfair to the United States, but his rhetoric softened after a friendlier-than-expected summit with Xi.

Shortly after their meeting, Trump said he had told Xi that China would get a better trade deal if it worked to rein in North Korea, whose nuclear and missile programmes have become an increasing threat to the United States.

Lately though, Trump, who is to meet Xi again on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg this week, has appeared increasingly frustrated that China – North Korea’s neighbour and main trading partner – has not taken stronger action.

North Korea said it tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday and experts said it appeared to be of a type capable of hitting all of Alaska, prompting renewed US calls for global diplomatic action.

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The United States has said it will propose new United Nations sanctions in response to the test, but it is unclear whether China and Russia will support these. Unlike Washington, neither Moscow nor Beijing have described the missile used in the test as an ICBM.

Trump vowed on Thursday to confront North Korea “very strongly” after the latest missile test and urged nations to show Pyongyang that there would be consequences for its weapons programmes.