‘Negative factors’ straining US-China tiess, Xi tells Trump

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Washington, July 3 (IANS) Beijing’s ties with Washington have been strained by “some negative factors”, Chinese President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump in a telephonic conversation.

The call on Sunday came at the end of a tense week in US-China relations, which analysts said signalled the end of honeymoon period between the two superpowers that began with a summit at Trump’s Mar A Lago resort in April, CNN reported.

Xi stressed that since his meeting with President Trump, important results have been achieved in China-US relations, reported Chinese state media outlet CCTV.

The report said bilateral relations have also been affected by some negative factors, on which the Chinese side has expressed its position to the US side.

The White House statement was more reticent, saying only that the two leaders discussed a range of issues of mutual interest, including North Korea and trade relations, CNN said.

Trump also spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by phone, with the two pledging deeper cooperation on North Korea in the wake of growing frustrations over the rogue state.

Relations between China and the US had warmed up after the two leaders met in February, with Trump even describing Xi as a “terrific person”.

But in the past week, the US after months of delay approved a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province, the same day as China’s Dandong Bank was slapped with sanctions for alleged ties to North Korea.

The US also labelled China as one of the world’s “worst human traffickers” and challenged Beijing in the South China Sea, by sailing close to a disputed chain of islands that China claims.

On June 21, Trump sent a tweet in which he said Chinese efforts on North Korea, while appreciated, had “not worked out”.

In conversations with Xi and Abe, Trump agreed with both leaders that efforts needed to be made to avoid conflict on the Korean peninsula.

According to the White House statement, Trump raised the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic arsenals with the Chinese President.

“Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearised Korean Peninsula,” the White House said in a readout of the phone call.

In his conversation with Abe, the White House said Trump reiterated the US was ready to defend Japan in the event of any North Korean aggression.

As Trump spoke with Xi and Abe, former US President Barack Obama spoke in South Korea about the difficulties of dealing with the North.

“The first thing to stipulate is this it’s hard, it’s a hard problem,” Obama said during remarks at the Asian Leadership Conference in Seoul.

“In North Korea you have a government that is unmatched in its repression of its people… You have a young man who is only interested in maintaining power and is willing to do anything to sustain that.”

Obama said North Korea’s future prosperity would not come “from the pursuit of nuclear weapons”.

–IANS

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