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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia Sunday by saying that the United States is looking forward to the first meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Tillerson said in talks with Xi in Beijing that Trump places a “very high value” on communications with the Chinese president.

Trump looks forward to “the opportunity of a visit in the future,” Tillerson said.

“You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Xi said, according to Reuters.

Xi told Tillerson that China considered his meetings on Saturday with Foreign Ministry Wang Yi and top diplomat Yang Jiechi to have been productive and constructive.

“Both (Trump) and I believe that we need to make joint efforts to advance China-U.S. cooperation and we believe that we can make sure the relationship will move ahead in a constructive fashion in the new era,” Xi said.

“We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthened, strengthening of the ties between China and the United States and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation,” Tillerson said, according to Reuters.

Tillerson’s Beijing visit followed his remarks on Friday in South Korea that pre-emptive military action against North Korea might be necessary if the threat from its weapons program reaches a level “that we believe requires action.”

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

China has reluctantly agreed to U.N. Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea, but is adamantly opposed to measures that might bring about a collapse of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime. Beijing fears Kim’s fall would send waves of refugees into northeastern China and see South Korean and American forces taking up positions along its border.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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