(Adds Chinese comment, paragraphs 3-4)
WASHINGTON Feb 28 U.S. Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Tuesday
discussed improving and maintaining a "mutually beneficial
economic relationship" between the United States and China, the
State Department said.
Tillerson and Yang, China's top diplomat, affirmed the
importance of "regular high-level engagement" between the two
countries during their meeting in Washington, and discussed
North Korea's nuclear program, the State Department said in a
China's state news agency, Xinhua, quoted Yang as saying
China was willing to work with Washington "to enhance exchanges
on all levels from top down" and to broaden communication and
coordination on regional and global issues, while respecting
"each other's core interests and major concerns."
"This will help promote sustained, steady and healthy
development of the China-U.S. relations, which will benefit the
peoples of not only both nations but also the whole world,"
Xinhua quoted Yang as saying.
The meeting was the latest exchange aimed at resetting
relations between the world's two largest economies following a
rocky start after the election of Donald Trump as U.S.
On Monday, Yang, who outranks China's foreign minister, met
at the White House with Trump, who has attacked China on issues
from trade, to the South China Sea and North Korea.
They discussed shared security interests and a possible
meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a senior
U.S. administration official.
The State Department said Yang invited Tillerson to visit
Beijing, and that Tillerson expressed interest in doing so.
Yang's visit to the United States follows a phone call
between him and Tillerson last week, during which they affirmed
the importance of a constructive U.S.-China relationship.
Yang's visit follows months of strong rhetoric from Trump,
who has accused China of unfair trade policies, criticized its
island-building in the strategic South China Sea, and accused it
of doing too little to constrain its neighbor, North Korea.
In December, Trump incensed Beijing by saying the United
States did not have to stick to the "one China" policy, under
which Washington acknowledges the Chinese position that there is
only one China, of which Taiwan is a part. He later agreed in a
phone call with Xi to honor the policy.
In an interview with Reuters last week, Trump urged China to
do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile
programs. China later dismissed Trump's remarks,
saying the crux of the matter was a dispute between Washington
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, David Brunnstrom and Susan
Heavey; Editing by Matthew Lewis)