China urged Trump to ease NKorea sanctions

US President Donald Trump met Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarised Zone last month.
US President Donald Trump met Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarised Zone last month.

China's Foreign Ministry says President Xi Jinping urged US President Donald Trump last month to show flexibility in dealings with North Korea and ease sanctions on the country "in due course".

China signed up for strict UN sanctions following repeated North Korean nuclear and missile tests but also has suggested they could be eased as a reward for good behaviour.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that Xi briefed Trump on China's position on North Korea when they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka.

"President Xi ... pushed the US side to show flexibility and meet the North Koreans half way, including easing sanctions in due course," Geng said.

Xi and Trump have both spoken with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un recently - Xi before the G20 summit during a trip to Pyongyang, and Trump after the summit, when he met Kim at the Demilitarised Zone along the North's border with South Korea.

Trump said after his meeting that both sides would set up teams to push forward stalled talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said they would likely happen "sometime in July ... probably in the next two or three weeks."

However, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said a top South Korean presidential official visiting Washington expressed uncertainty on Friday that the talks, stalled since a failed summit in Hanoi in February, could resume this month.

Yonhap said Kim Hyun-chong, deputy chief South Korea's National Security Office, told reporters after meeting Deputy U.S. national security adviser Charles Kupperman that the U.S. side still appeared to be waiting for a response from the North.

The State Department declined specific comment on Kim's remarks but said it had no meetings to announce.

Trump and Kim's Hanoi summit collapsed over U.S. demands for North Korea's complete denuclearization and North Korean insistence on sanctions relief. There has been no sign of a narrowing of differences since.

A senior U.S. official said US policy continued to be to maintain sanctions on North Korea until it gives up its nuclear weapons and the State Department reiterated that it expected countries around the world to fully implement and enforce them.

Australian Associated Press