Trump and China Agree to Military Exercises Over North Korean Threat as President Tones Down Tough Talk Against China’s Xi Jinping

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. Saul Loeb, Pool/Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump struck a conciliatory tone with Chinese leader Xi Jinping Saturday despite criticizing China last week for not helping to crack down on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The Trump administration and China now intend to move forward with military and security cooperation between the two counties. But President Xi also stressed the importance of talks with North Korea—an idea not embraced by the Trump administration.

"We had very direct discussions about North Korea,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters on Air Force One Saturday. Trump and Xi had "substantive discussions" about how to deal with North Korea, he added, and “very direct discussions about military and security cooperation.”

State news agency Xinhua said that Xi will order China's navy to join U.S.-led military exercises in the Pacific Rim in 2018.

The Trump-Xi meeting lasted over an hour-and-a-half and followed a tweet by Trump just days before the summit in which he admonished Xi for not doing more to curb North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Pyongyang claimed to have test launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Tuesday that could reach Alaska.

“So much for China working with us,” Trump tweeted Wednesday, adding, “trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 percent in the first quarter” of 2017.

Read more: Trump tweets would be a "disaster" in the thick of a nuclear crisis with North Korea, say experts

In April, during Trump’s meeting with Xi at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, the president received assurances that China would do more to contain the North Korean threat.

However, Trump changed his blustering tone toward China while at the table with Xi during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

“Let me just say that it’s an honor to have gotten to know you. We are developing and have developed a wonderful relationship,” Trump said to Xi Saturday. “I appreciate the things that you have done in regard to the very substantial problem that we all face in North Korea.”

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have ratcheted up, with the U.S. threatening military action. In Poland on Thursday, Trump warned: “I have some pretty severe things that we are thinking about” in response to the missile test. “That doesn't mean we are going to do it. I don't draw red lines,” the president said.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday that the U.S. is considering military action to stop Pyongyang’s missile tests.

China has been frustrated by the increasingly combative rhetoric of the U.S. Xi stressed the importance of talks with North Korea in his meeting with Trump, according to Xinhua news agency.

“China has many times talked about its principled position, namely that at the same time as the international community [is] making necessary responses to North Korean acts that go against U.N. Security Council resolutions, They must step up efforts to promote talks and manage and control the situation," Xinhua said, citing Xi.