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Trump accuses China of being unhelpful regarding North Korea

Trump accuses China of being unhelpful regarding North Korea

US President Donald Trump has criticized China for providing support to North Korea and making it more difficult to push through denuclearization efforts, which appear to have stalled after remarkable progress earlier in the year.

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By Noah L. Wilson 31.08.2018

US President Donald Trump has criticized China for providing support to North Korea and making it more difficult to push through denuclearization efforts, which appear to have stalled after remarkable progress earlier in the year.

The current impasse has raised speculation that the US military will restart exercises with longtime ally South Korea in the coming days. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis supported that sentiment in mid-week when he said that joint military exercises will carry on against a backdrop of uncertainty about relations with Pyongyang.

However, Trump delivered a contrasting view late on Wednesday, when he said that there was not any reason to resume expensive war games at the current time and accused trade rival China of being “not helpful” in an official White House statement posted on Twitter.

He said: “President Donald J. Trump feels strongly that North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese government. At the same time, we also know that China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities. This is not helpful!”

China has given short shrift to criticism from Trump in the ongoing trade battle, and its foreign ministry again pointed to the US administration's “magical logic” in regard to the Korean peninsula in a statement released on Thursday. It also claimed that Washington continues to “distort” the facts.

Trump has been quick to play up his close personal relations with Kim Jong Un this year, and he appealed to the North Korean leader again on Thursday. This came just a week after Trump decided to scrap plans for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit Pyongyang due to what he claimed was a lack of “sufficient progress” being made on both sides.

Senior US aides have been confident that North Korea will take the necessary steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons program entirely during the next 18 months, with Trump enthusiastically saying on Twitter that the country no longer posed a “nuclear threat.” This was after a historic summit between the two countries in June.

Smooth sailing has not taken place since then, however, as experts have warned Trump that realistic targets will be difficult to achieve. North Korea accused the US of pursuing “gangster-like” demands in its desire for denuclearization during Pompeo’s third visit to the country last month.

The impasse appears to have come about in part from the reluctance of the US to officially declare an end to the Korean war and put foundations in place for lasting peace and a potential reunification with South Korea before the destruction of nuclear weapons. While significant challenges remain, North Korea has ended tests for nuclear and long-range missiles.

“I suspect North Korea was waiting on a declaration [ending the war] before they made any more moves,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology Nuclear Policy Expert Vipin Narang said. “If it’s the case that Mr. Trump actually promised Mr. Kim that he would declare an end to the war during their meeting, that would be the first step towards a peace treaty between North Korea and the US, and by not following up, to them it’s just another indicator that the US is not willing to live up to its commitments.”

Trump’s capricious nature was highlighted on Wednesday when he spoke of how well his administration was working with North Korea and his “very good and warm” relationship with Kim Jong Un, but he then said military exercises could restart “instantly,” adding that they would be “far bigger” if he chose to go down that route.

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