President Donald Trump says China is applying "tremendous pressure" on North Korea because of its own trade disputes with the United States. Trump praised his relationship with Kim Jong Un as "a very good and warm one."
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said his administration would halt future military exercises with South Korea, but also warned that he could "instantly" relaunch them and that they would be "far bigger than ever before." He also called China out for putting pressure on North Korea, criticizing the Chinese government's role in the crisis.
The president's statement came a day after his defense secretary, James Mattis, hinted that the military drills could resume and days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a planned visit to North Korea, citing insufficient progress in denuclearization talks.
Trump had announced the suspension of military drills with South Korea in June, as an overture to Pyongyang, which saw the exercises as preparations for an invasion.
But Trump's statement on Wednesday did not mention any setbacks and hailed his personal relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "a very good and warm one."
At their June summit in Singapore, both leaders agreed broadly to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But North Korea has yet to prove a willingness to give up its nuclear weapons program unilaterally, as the White House demanded.
US intelligence and defense officials have repeatedly expressed deep doubts that Pyongyang is serious about denuclearization.
Trump calls out China
Trump's statement focused on China's role in efforts to get North Korea to denuclearize. He said he believed that Pyongyang was under "tremendous pressure" from China, which has an ongoing trade dispute with the US, and that Beijing was also supplying the North Korean regime with "considerable aid," including fuel, fertilizer and commodities.
"This is not helpful!" he said.
China, North Korea's traditional ally and main trading partner, joined the US in adopting tough international sanctions against Pyongyang in 2017, which the Chinese government says it is still enforcing.
Trump did not level any threats at China, but said trade disputes and other "differences" would eventually be resolved by him and President Xi Jinping. "Their relationship and bond remain very strong," the statement read.
jcg/rc (Reuters, AP)