China denied on Thursday that it has abandoned its long-standing proposal to ease the North Korean nuclear crisis after US President Donald Trump suggested Beijing had agreed to drop the policy.
Beijing has long campaigned for a "dual-track approach" in which the United States would halt military drills in the region while North Korea would freeze its weapons programmes. But Trump suggested on Wednesday following his five-nation trip to Asia, which included meetings with President Xi Jinping in Beijing, that the Chinese leader had ditched the plan.
"President Xi recognises that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China," Trump said. "And we agreed that we would not accept a so-called 'freeze for freeze' agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past." But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing's position on the nuclear issue remained "consistent and clear-cut".
"We think that under the current circumstances, the suspension for suspension initiative is the most realistic, feasible, fair and reasonable plan," Geng told a news briefing when asked about Trump's comment.
"It can not only ease the current tense situation but also solve the most pressing security concerns for all parties, provide opportunities and create conditions for resuming peace talks and find a breakthrough to get out of the stalemate," he said.
"We hope all relevant parties can have a earnest approach and give a positive consideration to the good faith of the Chinese side," Geng said, adding that using military force was "not an option" to resolve the crisis. Xi is sending a special envoy, Song Tao, to North Korea on Thursday. Although Song's mission is officially to brief North Korea about China's recent Communist Party congress, analysts say he will likely discuss the nuclear issue.