US, China see 'clear signs' sanctions hurt N. Korea: Tillerson

North Korea yesterday slammed US President Donald Trump's "warmonger" Asia tour, saying it would only accelerate Pyongyang's push for a full-fledged nuclear deterrent.

After the talks, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump told Xi: "You're a strong man, I'm sure you can solve this for me".

He leaves for the Philippines on Sunday afternoon where he will attend the ASEAN summit of Southeast Asian leaders.

The US militaries biggest worry is that North Korea might conduct an atmospheric nuclear test after the regime has followed through on all of their threats to date.

In an address to a business forum after the talks, Trump said the USA was committed to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but China had to work harder on the issue.

"There are clear signs, and the Chinese side has shared with us some of the signs they're seeing", he said.

But it was unlikely that Beijing, Pyongyang's sole economic and security guarantor, would agree to a complete halt to the essential fuel.

This comes amid US Defence and intelligence officials growing concerns after Kim Jong-un has not tested a ballistic missile in almost two months.

USA intelligence believes, however, that North Korea's underground nuclear test site at Punggye-ri has been damaged due to underground seismic activity and could be unsuitable for use.

A visit to the DMZ, despite his aides' earlier insistence he had no plans to go there, would have had the potential to further inflame tensions with North Korea. We agreed on the need to fully implement all the Security Council resolutions on North Korea and to increase economic pressure until North Korea abandons its reckless and risky path.

"Trump has shown that the United States is willing to consider China's position that there should be no war on the Korean peninsula", he said. North Korea's last test was on September 15, so this is an imminently doable ask.

China is the North's ally and its biggest trading partner.

Lt Gen Jouas said the United States "are vastly outnumbered by North Korean forces, as well as allied forces that will conduct the overwhelming majority of the fighting".

"China is unlikely to risk adding too much pressure to North Korea, due to a fear that the regime could collapse and thereby cause a serious catastrophe on the peninsula", Heath said.

  • Jon Douglas