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Trump, Xi Hopeful Korean Contacts Will Change Pyongyang's Nuclear Weapons Pursuit

FILE - President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave an event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 9, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, are hopeful that recent contacts between South and North Korean officials will lead to a change in Pyongyang's "destructive behavior" pursuing nuclear weapons, the White House said Tuesday.

The two leaders talked Monday and noted recent inter-Korean discussions leading to North Korea sending athletes and an orchestra to South Korea for next month's Winter Olympics. The White House said Trump and Xi "expressed hope" the rare contact between the two Koreas will lead to changes in North Korea's arms testing.

Trump, the White House said, "committed to sustain the United States-led global campaign of maximum pressure to compel North Korea to commit to denuclearization."

The White House said Trump and Xi also discussed trade issues, with the U.S. leader expressing "disappointment that the United States’ trade deficit with China has continued to grow. President Trump made clear that the situation is not sustainable."

The chronic U.S. trade deficit with China totaled more than $371 billion in the last year, meaning that the U.S. is importing more goods worth that much from China compared to products it is exporting to China.