Trump praises China on NoKor; Pyongyang warns of strike
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — US President Donald Trump praised Chinese efforts to rein in “the menace of North Korea” on Thursday, after North Korean state media warned the United States of a “supermighty preemptive strike.”
Trump told a news conference “some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours,” and that he was confident Chinese President Xi Jinping would “try very hard” to pressure Beijing’s ally and neighbor North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.
While Trump gave no indication of what the moves might be, US officials told Reuters that the United States was aware of a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signaling a possible heightened state of readiness. The officials played down concerns and left open a range of possible reasons.
Those possibilities included defensive exercises or Chinese concerns over North Korea. None of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suggested alarm or signaled that they knew the precise reason for such Chinese activity.
US officials have been saying for weeks that North Korea could soon stage another nuclear bomb test, something both the United States and China have both warned against.
Trump has taken a hard line with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who has proceeded with nuclear and missile programs in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions. The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Tensions have risen sharply in recent months after North Korea conducted two nuclear weapons tests last year and carried out a steady stream of ballistic missile tests. Trump, who took office in January, has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile.
Trump has focused his efforts on North Korea on trying to persuade China to put more pressure on its ally and could view any unusual Chinese military movements as supportive of this.
He told a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Italy on Thursday that the United States was “in very good shape” on North Korea and that China’s Xi, whom he met this month for a summit in Florida, was working hard to help.
North Korean soldiers march and shout slogans during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang on Sunday.