All Sunday papers reported from Beijing on Secretary of State Tillerson’s meetings on Saturday with Chinese President Xi, State Counsellor Yang, and Foreign Minister Wang, speculating that the top U.S. diplomat asked them to step up the pressure on North Korea. Asahi conjectured that the Secretary probably urged the Chinese leaders to restrict petroleum exports to North Korea further, suspecting that he may have explained the possible military options that the Trump administration would take in the event that the “peaceful pressure” campaign failed to stop Kim Jong Un’s pursuit of nuclear and missile development.
Asahi said the Secretary’s trip to Beijing was hastily arranged in response to a request from State Counsellor Yang, who held talks with the Secretary in Washington on Sept. 12. Secretary Tillerson agreed to visit on condition that the Chinese present concrete steps to ratchet up pressure on the DPRK. The papers claimed that Beijing responded by ordering its banks to stop conducting transactions with North Korean enterprises.
The dailies said President Xi, State Counsellor Yang, and Foreign Minister Wang underscored Beijing’s commitment to strictly implementing the relevant UN sanctions, perhaps in a bid to ensure stable relations with the Trump administration ahead of President Trump’s upcoming visit to China in early November. Asahi speculated that Beijing is taking a concerted approach with Washington in applying greater pressure on the North with the goal of dissuading President Trump from considering military options.
Secretary Tillerson mentions dialogue with DPRK
The dailies also highlighted the Secretary’s remarks to the press after the meetings with senior Chinese officials, in which he said that the U.S. has “direct channels of communication” with North Korea and that Washington is “probing” for potential dialogue. “We’re not in a dark situation,” he added.
In a follow-up development, most Monday papers took up President Trump’s latest tweets: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…” and “…Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!” State Department Spokesperson Nauert separately said in a statement released on Friday: “Despite assurances that the U.S. is not interested in promoting the collapse of the current regime, pursuing regime change, accelerating reunification of the peninsula or mobilizing forces north of the DMZ, North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization.” Yomiuri speculated that these messages were issued in order to head off speculation that the Secretary’s reference to communication with the North suggests that the Trump administration is planning to start dialogue with Pyongyang in the near future.