President Donald Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on Friday.
The three leaders issued a joint statement on “the serious and escalating threat posed by the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
The three leaders condemned North Korea’s Fourth of July launch of a “ballistic missile with intercontinental range” as “a major escalation that directly violates multiple United Nation’s Security Council resolutions and that clearly demonstrates the growing threat the DPRK poses to the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan, as well as other countries around the world.”
The statement included both a promise to “offer a brighter future for the DPRK if it chooses the right path,” and a call for a new United Nations Security Council resolution against North Korea, with “additional sanctions to demonstrate to the DPRK that there are serious consequences for its destabilizing, provocative, and escalatory actions.”
Trump, Abe, and Moon also called for other nations to reduce their “economic relations” with North Korea, and asked “nations that border the DPRK to make further efforts to convince the DPRK regime to abandon its current threatening and provocative path and immediately take steps to denuclearize and to halt its ballistic missile program.” Aside from President Moon’s South Korea, the only two nations bordering the DPRK are China and Russia.
President Trump also emerged from the meeting with a renewed dedication to the “ ironclad commitment of the United States to defend the ROK and Japan using the full range of its conventional and nuclear capabilities.”
Looking behind the scenes of the trilateral meeting, the Korea Times cites a “high-level government official” who said Trump told Abe and Moon that America is considering further “economic sanctions designed to punish Chinese firms and individuals doing business with North Korea.”
The Trump administration took some significant steps in that direction two weeks ago. China strongly protested the Treasury Department’s decision to sanction two Chinese individuals and a shipping company for helping North Korea with its nuclear weapons program.
“The purpose of such sanctions is to put North Korea in an unbearable situation and give it no option other than coming forward for talks,” said this high-level official.
Another interesting possibility raised by the Korea Times source is that Trump will ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to block or sharply curtail oil shipments to North Korea during the G20 summit. President Moon reportedly asked China to do more during his own bilateral meeting with Xi on Thursday, but Xi rebuffed his request by talking about the “blood alliance” between China and North Korea. Oil is perhaps the heaviest leverage Beijing has over Pyongyang.