G20: Hamburg

Trump calls North Korea ‘a problem and a menace’

‘Something has to be done about it,’ US president tells President Xi Jinping on sidelines of G20

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 July, 2017, 12:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 July, 2017, 3:09am

President Donald Trump assailed North Korea as a “problem and menace” yesterday as he met Asian allies on the sidelines of the G20 summit to discuss next steps after the Pyongyang’s recent ­test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“Something has to be done about it,” Trump said as he met President Xi Jinping.

Xi called for more international peace-making and crisis management efforts on the Korean Peninsula, Xinhua reported.

In a separate meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said the US and Japan two were tackling “the problem and menace of North Korea”.

Xi and Trump met amid rising tensions between the Washington and Beijing two ­nations over the handling of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and South China Sea disputes.

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Trump said it may take time to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ­programme, but told Xi that he was confident Washington and Beijing could eventually reach a successful conclusion.

Trump, who has urged Xi to use China’s economic leverage to pressure Pyongyang, said he ­appreciated what Xi had done, Reuters reported.

Xi urged joint efforts to keep the Sino-US ties on track, Xinhua reported.

Trump expressed some impatience with China after North Korea tested what experts believe was an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching ­Alaska, Hawaii and perhaps the US Pacific Northwest.

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The talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit took place as Trump sought consensus on countering Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear programme.

Two US B-1 bombers flew to the Korean Peninsula to join fighter jets from South Korea and Japan for a practice bombing run as part of a larger training mission in response to North Korea’s missile tests, officials said.

The White House has tried to pressure Beijing to rein in North Korea but Trump has expressed frustration with the process.

Last week, the US announced new sanctions against two Chinese citizens and two Chinese companies for their financial ties to Pyongyang, in what it said was part of a wider effort to block financial channels used by North Korea to further its missile programmes.

Such measures have helped Beijing to understand Washington’s resolve to bring more pressures to Pyongyang, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said ahead of the talks.

But Xi expressed dismay towards unilateral sanction over North Korea in his talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday.

“China is still against additional sanctions against North Korea,” Norio Maruyama, spokesman of Japanese foreign ministry, said after the talks between Xi and Abe.

North Korea still a sticking point after China-US dialogue

Ahead of the talks between Xi and Trump, Tillerson said China had “paused” in taking action against Pyongyang, but the two nations had “a clear understanding” of the situation. He said the two sides had remained “closely engaged” through dialogue, both face-to-face and over the phone.

“China has taken significant action, and then I think for a lot of different reasons, they paused and didn’t take additional action,” the US diplomat said.

“They then have taken some steps and then they paused, and I think in our own view there are a lot of, perhaps, explanations for why those pauses occur,” he said.

Tensions over North Korea rose sharply this week when Pyongyang launched what some experts said was an intercontinental ballistic missile, which might be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.

The defiant move triggered fresh calls for Beijing as North Korea’s largest trade partner and only ally, to do more to rein in its reclusive neighbour.

The atmosphere facing the Sino-US relations is tense as the two sides have also clashed over the US’s freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea and Washington’s US$1.4 billion arms deal with Taiwan.

Last week, China and Russia are mounting a united front over North Korea’s missile programme as pressure from the United States grows to rein in Pyongyang.

The two nations called on Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear and missile programmes and also urged the US and South Korea to halt large-scale military drills