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Trump talks to Abe and Xi about Pyongyang

July 04,2017
After his summit with President Moon Jae-in, U.S. President Donald Trump held phone conversations with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday evening, Washington time, discussing North Korea and its nuclear threats.

Trump is scheduled to meet with both leaders at the upcoming Group of 20 summit Friday and Saturday in Hamburg, Germany, which will also be attended by Moon.

Abe and Trump agreed to step up the pressure on North Korea in cooperation with South Korea, according to a Japanese government spokesman.

Kyodo News reported Monday that the two leaders also agreed to hold a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, along with President Moon, to discuss how the countries should cooperate regarding the North, according to Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda.

Hagiuda also said Abe praised Washington’s unilateral sanctions Thursday on a Chinese company and individuals linked with financing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The U.S. Treasury also accused the Bank of Dandong of laundering money for Pyongyang.

The White House also said in a statement that Abe and Trump “reaffirmed that the United States-Japan alliance stands ready to defend and respond to any threat or action taken by North Korea.” Trump likewise addressed North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in his phone call with Xi. The White House later said, “Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula” and added that Trump reiterated with Xi his “determination to seek more balanced trade relations with America’s trading partners.”

China’s state-run CCTV reported Monday that they discussed peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and agreed to discuss issues of mutual interest in the upcoming G-20 summit. Xi was also said to have emphasized the One China policy.

Trump and Moon held their two-day summit last Thursday and Friday in Washington, where they agreed to maximize pressure on the North while leaving room for dialogue.

In a joint statement following their summit, Moon and Trump reaffirmed their commitment “to fully implement existing sanctions and impose new measures designed to apply maximum pressure” on North Korea, and to compel the country “to cease its provocative actions and return to sincere and constructive talks.”

They urged members of the United Nations to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions and exert diplomatic and economic pressure on the North, especially noting “the important role China could play to this end.”

Enhancing trilateral cooperation between South Korea, the United States and Japan was another point raised in the summit between Moon and Trump, and in the statement.

According to their statement, Moon and Trump “affirmed that trilateral security and defense cooperation contributes to enhanced deterrence and defense” against the North Korea threat.

Trump has expressed growing frustration with China’s inability to rein in North Korea, and there has been increased diplomatic and military tension between the two countries. The Trump administration approved a $1.42 billion arms deal with Taiwan last Thursday, on the same day it issued targeted sanctions on Chinese entities and individuals. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said last Friday that it consistently “opposes unilateral sanctions” outside the UN framework.

On Sunday, the USS Stethem, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, sailed near the Triton Island, part of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, which are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. Beijing dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response.

“Under the pretext of ‘navigation freedom,’ the U.S. side once again sent a military vessel into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China’s approval,” Lu Kang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, said on Sunday.

Lu added that such behavior violated Chinese and international law, infringed upon its sovereignty and “constitutes a serious political and military provocation.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]