Trump urges Xi to work hard on North Korean nuclear issue

US President Donald Trump with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a welcome ceremony in Beijing yesterday. Mr Trump, who is on a three-day state visit to China, said he and Mr Xi discussed “mutual commitment to the complete denuclearisation of N
US President Donald Trump with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a welcome ceremony in Beijing yesterday. Mr Trump, who is on a three-day state visit to China, said he and Mr Xi discussed “mutual commitment to the complete denuclearisation of North Korea”. Mr Xi affirmed this, saying the two sides will maintain communication and cooperation on the Korean peninsula. PHOTO: REUTERS

US leader stresses importance of acting fast as they discuss denuclearisation of North Korea

US President Donald Trump minced no words over the North Korean nuclear crisis in his visit to China, telling his Chinese counterpart and host Xi Jinping he needs to "work on it very hard".

"Time is running out and we have to act fast," said the American leader as he and Mr Xi witnessed the signing of industrial and financial deals yesterday that totalled more than US$250 billion (S$340 billion), including another US$9 billion signed the day before.

North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes have been a sticking point between the two powers, with the United States wanting China to do more to rein in Pyongyang but Beijing reluctant to take measures that could destabilise its impoverished neighbour and close ally.

Under its young leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has in recent years tested nuclear bombs and medium-and long-range missiles with greater frequency and increasing success.

Observers have said that it is close to making nuclear weapons small enough to mount onto missiles. And in recent months, Pyongyang has tested inter-continental ballistic missiles with a range long enough for them to reach Chicago in the heart of the continental US.

The tests led Mr Trump to ratchet up the rhetoric, threatening "fire and fury" on the Asian state, while Pyongyang in turn called Mr Trump a "strangler of peace" and threatened to strike at Guam, a US military base in the Pacific.

Mr Trump, who visited security allies Japan and South Korea before arriving in Beijing on Wednesday, was more restrained in a speech in Seoul. He offered North Korea a path "to a much better future", while also calling on countries including China and Russia to do their part in isolating the secretive regime.

QUICK ACTION NEEDED

Time is running out and we have to act fast.

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, to his Chinese counterpart and host Xi Jinping yesterday.

CALL TO EVERY NATION

We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime and sever all ties of trade and technology.

MR TRUMP, in his address to the South Korean National Assembly on Wednesday.

"We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime and sever all ties of trade and technology," he said in his address to the South Korean National Assembly.

Yesterday in Beijing, on the second day of his three-day state visit, Mr Trump told the media he and the Chinese leader discussed "mutual commitment to the complete denuclearisation of North Korea".

Mr Xi affirmed this, showing that the two sides share the same goal of a Korean peninsula without nuclear weapons.

The Chinese leader also said the two sides would continue to "fully and strictly" implement United Nations Security Council resolutions and work towards a solution "through dialogue and negotiation".

He added that the two sides will maintain communication and cooperation on the Korean peninsula.

Chinese analyst Su Hao of China Foreign Affairs University said comments by the leaders suggested the two sides had reached a consensus on North Korea, including on political coordination to lower tensions.

While noting this appeared to be progress made on North Korea, Professor Su said both sides would still have their differences and the US would continue to pressure China over the issue.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2017, with the headline 'Trump urges Xi to work hard on North Korean nuclear issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe