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WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump warned that the United States is prepared to act unilaterally to deal with North Korea’s nuclear program if China proves unwilling to help.
“Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times of London on Sunday.
Trump’s comments come ahead of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday and Friday at the US president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Tensions have risen sharply as North Korea has stepped up ballistic missile tests and amid boasts by leader Kim Jong-un that his country was in the final stages of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile.
US-based analysts have warned that North Korea appears to be preparing a new nuclear test. It has staged five nuclear tests so far, two last year.
“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump told the Financial Times. “If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”
In a separate interview, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the United States is looking to China to take action against North Korea.
“The only country that can stop North Korea is China and they know that,” Haley told ABC’s “This Week” in an interview broadcast on Sunday. “We’re going to continue to put pressure on China to have action.”
The Mar-a-Lago meeting will be the two leaders’ first face-to-face encounter.
On Thursday, Trump predicted a “very difficult” summit, noting the disputes over trade policy between the world’s two most powerful nations and leading economies.
But Haley emphasised that at the Florida meeting “the most important conversation will be how we’re going to be dealing with the non-proliferation of North Korea.”
Beijing, increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile activities, has announced a suspension of all coal imports from the North until the end of the year.
Haley deemed that measure – which was in keeping with UN sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and missile programme – insufficient, saying that coal is “going in other ways.”