- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2017

President Trump again insisted Wednesday that the U.S. and its allies will not tolerate North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests and missile launches, discussing the crisis on the Korean peninsula with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a 45-minute phone call.

Mr. Trump has been trying for months to persuade Beijing to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to scale back its aggressive military posture. China is Pyongyang’s main trading partner and shares a border with North Korea.

The president said he had a “very frank and very strong” phone call with Mr. Xi, although no breakthroughs were announced.

Days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un defied Mr. Trump by testing the country’s most powerful nuclear device yet, Mr. Trump had a new warning for the isolated regime in Pyongyang.

“We will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “I believe that President Xi [Jinping] agrees with me 100 percent. He doesn’t want to see what’s happening there, either.”

The president said of China’s leader, “He’s very much in favor of the ‘denuke’ of North Korea, and we’re talking about different things.”

“President Xi would like to do something, we’ll see whether or not he can do it,” Mr. Trump said.

Asked if he was considering military action, Mr. Trump replied, “We’ll see what happens. Certainly that’s not our first choice, but we will see what happens.”

North Korea’s leader said Sunday that his military successfully tested a hydrogen bomb that is capable of being mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile. Experts say the North is moving unexpectedly quickly to acquiring a compact nuclear bomb and the ballistic missile to potentially threaten the U.S. mainland.

The Associated Press reported that Mr. Trump also discussed the North Korean crisis by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Wednesday. To Ms. May, Mr. Trump stressed “now is not the time to talk to North Korea” and that “all options remain open to defend the United States and its allies.”

Separately, the Trump administration circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would ban all oil and natural gas exports to North Korea, potentially devastating its economy. The measure also would freeze all of the North’s and Mr. Kim’s foreign financial assets, and outlaw North Korean textiles exports. Countries also would be prevented from hiring and paying North Korean workers.

But support from China and Russia, which wield vetoes on the Security Council, for such tough action was doubtful.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been pushing against Mr. Trump’s hard rhetorical line, warning against cornering Pyongyang.

The North’s nuclear test “flagrantly violates” international law, Mr. Putin said, but he urged talks and not more sanctions.

“We should not give in to emotions and push Pyongyang into a corner,” Mr. Putin said after meeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Russia on Wednesday, according to the AP. “As never before, everyone should show restraint and refrain from steps leading to escalation and tensions.”

On Capitol Hill, top U.S. military, diplomacy and intelligence chiefs briefed lawmakers on the North Korean threat and U.S. strategy to address it. Democrats accused the administration of sending confusing signals to adversaries and allies.

“The message changes from day to day and for myself, I’m not quite sure what the policy is,” Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said. He said he learned nothing from the closed-doors briefing by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that he hadn’t already read in newspapers.

This article was based in part on wire service reports.


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