UNITED NATIONS • US President Donald Trump hit out at China and Iran as he chaired a United Nations Security Council meeting for the first time yesterday.
He accused China of seeking to meddle in the Nov 6 US mid-term elections.
"China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November. Against my administration... They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade," said Mr Trump.
The President did not provide any evidence for the allegation.
In the wide-ranging remarks at a special session on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Mr Trump said Iran's "aggression has only increased" since the 2015 international nuclear deal, and the US is determined to pursue tougher sanctions.
"I ask all members of the Security Council to work with the United States to ensure the Iranian regime changes its behaviour and never acquires a nuclear bomb," he said.
Mr Trump wielded the gavel at the meeting, as the United States this month holds the presidency of the 15-nation council that deals with the world's most pressing security threats.
In his remarks, French President Emmanuel Macron said all Security Council members have the same objective. "We are all united around this table that Iran must not be able to arm itself with nuclear weapons," he said. But he argued that the Iran issue cannot be solved by a "policy of sanctions and containment".
As for North Korea, Mr Trump heaped praise on leader Kim Jong Un, but called for strict enforcement of sanctions for now.
Mr Trump said the world can expect "very good news" in the coming months and years from North Korea after his landmark summit with Mr Kim in Singapore in June.
"Kim Jong Un, a man I have gotten to know and like, wants peace and prosperity for North Korea," Mr Trump said.
Earlier, Mr Trump told reporters that he would be announcing the timing and location of his next meeting with Mr Kim in the "very near future".
The US State Department said late yesterday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would visit Pyongyang next month to discuss the North's denuclearisation efforts. Mr Pompeo accepted the invitation at a meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of the UN gathering.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani exchanged taunts at the annual gathering of world leaders - with Mr Trump vowing more sanctions against Teheran, and Mr Rouhani suggesting that his American counterpart suffers from a "weakness of intellect" and an "inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world".
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, meanwhile, warned Teheran of "hell to pay" if it threatens the US or its allies.
"If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens, if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive; yes, there will indeed be hell to pay," he said. "Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you."
The Trump administration also issued a stark warning on Tuesday to the US' closest European allies, promising to sharply penalise governments or companies that continue to do business with Iran.
The next wave of US sanctions against Iran will take effect on Nov 4.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES