WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. President Donald Trump will urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to use his major economic influence with North Korea as leverage over the increasingly aggressive nation, a senior Trump Administration official told reporters on Tuesday.
Trump, the official said, will emphasize that “the clock is very, very quickly running out” to stop North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.
Trump and Xi will meet for the first time this week at Mar-a-Lago to discuss a number of issues, including North Korea.
When questioned on Tuesday whether Trump will attempt to obtain a commitment from China on the issue of putting pressure on North Korea, a senior Trump Administration official responded, “North Korea clearly is a matter of urgent interest for the President and the administration as a whole. I think the President has been pretty clear in messaging how important it is for China to coordinate with the United States and for China to begin exerting its considerable economic leverage to bring about a peaceful resolution to that problem.”
The official said the issue of North Korea would “certainly” be discussed. “Just shy of 90% of North Korea’s external trade is with China. Even though we hear sometimes that China’s political influence may have diminished with North Korea, clearly its economic leverage has not. It is considerable.”
President Trump has reviewed U.S. policy on North Korea and, while Trump does not want to reveal his strategy, the source said, “I think that he’ll be sending a clear signal to President Xi.”
The official identified North Korea as an issue where the Administration would like to work together with China. “There’s an opportunity and, in some ways, it’s really, we’ve been left after 20-some odd years of trying pretty much everything to bring about a safe and denuclearized peninsula and so this is in some ways a test of the relationship.”
The official strongly affirmed:
The United States will always act to defend our allies and to defend our homeland against any threat and particularly one of the nature of the North Korean regime with the kinds of terrible weapons that they’re developing. There is, there will be no move away from protecting our South Korean allies and the United States.
Asked specifically how urgent the danger from North Korea is, the official said:
It is now urgent because we feel that the clock is very, very quickly running out and again we would have loved to see North Korea join the Community of Nations, they’ve been given that opportunity over the course of different dialogues and offers over the course of four administrations with some of our best diplomats and statesmen doing the best they could to bring about a resolution.
The official concluded, “The clock has now run out and all options are on the table for us.”
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