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White House applauds China on reduction in trade with North Korea

011218 SWestwood wh china trade pic
A Chinese flag flies over the Chinese end of the Friendship Bridge connecting China and North Korea. China has tightened restrictions on trade with North Korea under U.N. nuclear sanctions, imposing a cap on oil supplies to the North and banning imports of its steel and other goods. (AP Photo/Emily Wang, File)

Trump administration officials applauded China on Friday for cutting down its trade with North Korea in 2017, when President Trump pressured Chinese President Xi Jinping repeatedly to end its trade relationship with North Korea in an effort to pressure the country into denuclearizing.

"The Donald J. Trump Administration is pleased that China is sharply reducing its trade with North Korea," the White House said in a statement. "This action supports the United States-led global effort to apply maximum pressure until the North Korean regime ends its illicit programs, changes its behavior, and moves toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

Trade between China and North Korea fell by more than 10 percent between 2016 and 2017, CNBC reported on Friday.

Trump's strategy toward North Korea has focused heavily on pushing China to sever ties with the Kim Jong Un regime.

The president has said he is open to pursuing talks between the U.S. and North Korea, although he has not specified what preconditions would be necessary to begin such a dialogue.