Thu, Jun 22, 2017 - Page 7 News List

China tried, failed on N Korea: Trump

‘DISGRACE’:The US president has hardened rhetoric against Pyongyang after the death of Otto Warmbier, whose imprisonment Trump said was poorly handled

Reuters, WASHINGTON

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, gestures while speaking with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that Chinese efforts to persuade North Korea to rein in its nuclear program have failed, ratcheting up the rhetoric over the death of a US student who had been detained by Pyongyang.

Trump has held high hopes for greater cooperation from China to exert influence over North Korea, leaning heavily on Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his assistance.

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” Trump said on Twitter.

It was unclear whether his remark represented a significant shift in his thinking in the US struggle to stop North Korea’s nuclear program and its test launching of missiles or a change in US policy toward China.

On Tuesday, a US official, who did not want to be identified, said US spy satellites had detected movement at North Korea’s nuclear test site near a tunnel entrance, but it was unclear if these were preparations for a new nuclear test — perhaps to coincide with high-level talks between the US and China in Washington yesterday.

North Korea last tested a nuclear bomb in September last year, but it has conducted repeated missile tests since and vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the continental US, putting it at the forefront of Trump’s security worries.

The Trump tweet about China was likely to increase pressure on Beijing ahead of yesterday’s Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, in which US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis were to meet with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) and Chinese People’s Liberation Army Chief of Joint Staff General Fang Fenghui (房峰輝).

The US Department of State has said the dialogue would focus on ways to increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs, but also cover areas such as counterterrorism and territorial rivalries in the strategic South China Sea.

The US is expected to press China to cooperate on a further toughening of international sanctions on North Korea. The US and its allies would like to see an oil embargo and bans on North Korea’s airline and guest workers among other moves, steps diplomats have said have been resisted by China and Russia.

Trump has hardened his rhetoric against North Korea following the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who died on Monday in the US after returning from captivity in North Korea in a coma.

In a White House meeting with visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Trump criticized the way Warmbier’s case was handled in the year since his arrest, appearing to assail both North Korea and his predecessor, former US president Barack Obama.

“What happened to Otto is a disgrace and I spoke with his family. His family is incredible ... but he should have been brought home a long time ago,” Trump said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier’s “unjust imprisonment” and urged Pyongyang to release three other Americans who are detained.

Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times said Chinese officials must be wary of Warmbier’s death pushing Washington to put greater pressure on Beijing.

“China has made the utmost efforts to help break the stalemate in the North Korean nuclear issue, but by no means will China, nor will Chinese society permit it to, act as a ‘US ally’ in pressuring North Korea,” the Global Times said in an editorial.

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