President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the U.S. and China agree that North Korea cannot just freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for concessions and that it must eliminate its arsenal.
"President Xi recognizes that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China, and we agreed that we would not accept a so-called freeze for freeze agreement, like those that have consistently failed in the past," Trump said.
Trump was restating a long-standing U.S. position but suggested that China now concurred with Washington that a "freeze-for-freeze" agreement was unacceptable.
China and Russia have proposed that as a way to restart long-stalled negotiations, North could freeze its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for the U.S. and its close ally South Korea stopping regular military drills that Pyongyang considers as preparation for invasion.
China has not made a public disavowal of the proposal. China said on Wednesday that it would send a high-level special envoy to North Korea amid an extended chill in relations between the neighbors.
Trump was speaking after completing his 12-day trip through Asia that included a state visit to China, where he was hosted by President Xi Jinping.
He said that Xi pledged to implement U.N. sanctions that aim to deprive North Korea of revenues for its weapons programs "and to use his great economic influence over the regime to achieve our common goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula."
China is North Korea`s traditional ally and accounts for about 90 percent of the isolated nation`s external trade — including virtually all its oil supplies.