China says the recent "irresponsible" comments made by President Donald Trump of the United States about Beijing's commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula contradict "basic facts."
"The US statement is contrary to basic facts and is irresponsible. We are seriously concerned about this," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement posted on the ministry's website on Saturday.
The ministry said it had made "stern representations" to the US side, and that it would continue to play a positive role in working toward the denuclearization.
Trump said in a recent posting on Twitter that an upcoming trip to North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been cancelled, partly blaming Beijing for a lack of progress in the denuclearization talks.
...Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2018
Lu said China’s stance on the denuclearization had been consistent, and it supported Washington and Pyongyang to push forward the agreements reached during their landmark summit in Singapore in June.
“All related parties should stick to the path of political settlement … and show more sincerity and flexibility rather than being unpredictable and passing the buck to others,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry official said.
The United States and China have been locked in a trade dispute for months, which again escalated this week, with each side ratcheting up tariffs on imports from the other country in what may be leading to a trade war.
China remains North Korea’s main ally and trade partner, though their relations have relatively cooled when Beijing began enforcing UN Security Council sanctions aimed at containing Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
But in late March, Beijing pledged to uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbor and won a pledge from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to denuclearize the peninsula during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Seoul regrets delay in Pompeo trip
On Saturday, South Korea called Trump's decision to call off Pompeo’s visit “unfortunate” and said continued diplomacy was vital to resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang.
"While we consider the delay of the visit to North Korea as unfortunate, we believe it's most important for the North Korea-US dialogue, including Secretary Pompeo's visits to North Korea, to contribute to substantial progress in complete denuclearization and the establishment of a permanent peace regime in the Korean Peninsula," South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said.
Although the US State Department never confirmed the details of Pompeo’s trip, it had been expected that he would be in Pyongyang for at least several hours on Monday, according to several diplomatic sources familiar with the plan.
In June, Kim Jong-un met with Trump in Singapore and agreed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
While the summit was seen as a test for diplomacy that could end the long-running nuclear standoff, foreign policy experts say the stakes are high if it does not result in a nuclear agreement.
In a report seen Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there was no indication that North Korea had stopped its nuclear activities.
Dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and verifying it would be a large and complex task. The IAEA has said previously it stands ready to help verify any future agreements between the United States and North Korea over the issue.
North Korea earlier said its nuclear arsenal served as a deterrent against Washington's potential aggression.