China renews call for North Korea, US 'freeze-for-freeze'

China is reiterating its call for an agreement between North Korea and the U.S. under which the North would gain concessions if it freezes its nuclear weapons program.

The statement from foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang Thursday appeared to contradict President Donald Trump's remarks Wednesday that the U.S. and China agreed that North Korea cannot just freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for benefits. Trump said the North must eliminate its arsenal.

Trump was restating a long-standing U.S. position, but also suggesting that China now concurred with Washington that a "freeze-for-freeze" agreement was unacceptable.

Geng said at a regular briefing that China's position has not changed. He said the "freeze-for-freeze" initiative, under which the U.S. and South Korea would suspend large-scale military exercises in return, remained a "first step."