(This June 12 story has been corrected to remove erroneous quote fragment in second paragraph and add clarifying quote in fifth paragraph)
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised China’s President Xi Jinping for helping secure an agreement towards North Korea’s denuclearization, and said the deal would be good for Beijing.
“Making a deal is a great thing for the world, it’s also a great thing for China, I can’t imagine that China is happy with someone having nuclear weapons so close,” Trump told reporters in Singapore after his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
China’s foreign ministry issued a statement praising the resolve of Trump and Kim.
Trump said he would call Xi, probably before he lands in Washington on his way back from Singapore, to tell him about the results of the meeting. He said he would be including Beijing in follow-up discussions.
“I really believe that he’s happy that we made this kind of progress,” Trump said.
China is by far North Korea’s biggest trade partner and has been the isolated country’s traditional political ally. Speaking after the Singapore summit, China’s foreign ministry spokesman suggested that sanctions relief could be considered for North Korea if it abides by U.N. resolutions, while adding that China had always strictly abided by all these resolutions.
Trump said he believed that China had in recent weeks eased up on sanctions against North Korea, allowing more trade to flow between the two countries, suggesting that this weakening in the response may have been Beijing’s way of letting the United States know it was not happy with Washington’s tough stance against Beijing in trade talks.
The Global Times, an influential Chinese state-run newspaper, said in an editorial that the time was right to consider “an appropriate reduction of the sanctions” against North Korea.
Reporting by Miral Fahmy; Editing by Martin Howell