The U.S. State Department said Tuesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would go to Beijing on Thursday for talks with senior Chinese leaders, amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tillerson would discuss a range of issues, including President Donald Trump's planned travel to the region later this year, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and trade and investment.
Tillerson plans to be in Beijing from Thursday through Sunday, more than a month before Trump's expected travel to China in November.
The secretary of state is making his second visit to China, following up on a visit in March, soon after he was confirmed as the top U.S. diplomat.
Tillerson has repeatedly said he is focused on diplomacy as the principal means of reducing heightened tensions with Pyongyang, and State Department officials noted that both China and Russia play a crucial role in pressuring North Korea to stop its threatening nuclear tests.
War declaration denied
At the United Nations on Monday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho accused Trump of declaring war on North Korea and threatened that Pyongyang would shoot down U.S. warplanes flying near the peninsula. In reply, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders strongly denied that the U.S. had declared or planned to declare war on North Korea.
At the State Department, Tillerson and other officials stressed that the United States was not seeking regime change in Pyongyang or taking any action to topple North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Speaking in Beijing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said war on the Korean Peninsula would have no winner.
"We hope that U.S. and North Korean politicians have sufficient political judgment to realize that resorting to military force will never be a viable way to resolve the peninsula issue and their own concerns," the Chinese spokesman said.