Trump draws two resisters over N. Korea
At G-20, Russians, Chinese firmly reject U.S. retaliation
HAMBURG, Germany — President Donald Trump on Thursday stepped up efforts to blunt North Korea, warning that the nation could face “some pretty severe” consequences over its latest missile test and huddling for more than an hour with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.
The North’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, its most successful missile test to date, has stoked security worries in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo as it showed that the country could eventually perfect a reliable nuclear missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States. Analysts said the missile tested Tuesday could reach Alaska if launched at a normal trajectory.
But even as Trump sought to use his proximity to world leaders ahead of the Group of 20 summit to rally allies, the White House faced firm opposition from Russia and China over any retaliatory measures on Pyongyang.
Asked by a reporter at a photo op whether he had lost faith in Beijing, Trump replied: “Never give up.” But he did not respond to a follow-up question about whether he has been disappointed in China’s inability to constrain North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un.
Earlier in the day, during a news conference in Warsaw before his arrival in Germany, Trump called the North’s
test of an intercontinental ballistic missile “very, very bad behavior.”
“Something will have to be done about it,” he said, though he did not offer details about what responses his administration was considering.
The Trump administration’s effort to forge consensus among members of the U.N. Security Council appears to have hit a wall, given the opposition in Moscow and Beijing to additional economic sanctions or potential U.S. military actions against Pyongyang.
Trump had a 75-minute meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a bid to put the two U.S. allies on the same page as Washington. Norio Maruyama, a Japanese government spokesman, told reporters in Hamburg that the conversation was “very vivid” and that the only topic on the agenda was North Korea.
The three leaders agreed that China should do more to rein in North Korea’s “provocative” behavior, said Maruyama, adding that Abe emphasized that “holding dialogue for the sake of dialogue with North Korea is meaningless.” He added that the Japanese leader believes that “it would be essential to put pressure on North Korea to make it engage in dialogue seriously.”
Maruyama said the issue of military action was not discussed with any specificity.
“Great trilateral meeting & dinner,” Trump wrote on Twitter, including a photo of him flanked by Moon and
Abe. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended the meeting with Trump, along with other U.S. officials.
Their discussion came the day before Trump’s first bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday.
Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that the launch of the missile does not alone bring the United States closer to war. Mattis described ongoing efforts to pressure North Korea as “purely diplomatically led” with a focus on economic sanctions.
“Diplomacy has not failed,” Mattis said. It is U.S. self-restraint that has prevented “war in the face of provocations,” he said, “but our self-restraint holds, and diplomatic efforts remain underway as we speak.”
Mattis said the United States is still analyzing the re-entry vehicle in the intercontinental ballistic missile launched this week. U.S. defenses against North Korean missiles are sufficient, and the United States knew quickly that the missile had been launched, he said.
“We assume these sorts of things from him,” Mattis said of North Korea’s leader.
“We were on duty. As you all know, the radars were up and operating.”
Pentagon officials this week have sought to underscore that the intercontinental ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea is “nascent” and that Pyongyang has a long way to go in terms of understanding the trajectory of the missiles and re-entry before they could hit North America.
In a display of military power two days after the launch, South Korean jets and navy ships fired a barrage of guided-missiles into the ocean during drills Thursday.
The live-fire drills off South Korea’s east coast were previously scheduled. In a show of force, South Korea and the United States on Wednesday also staged “deep strike” precision missile firing drills as a warning to the North.
In North Korea’s capital, thousands of people rallied Thursday in Kim Il Sung square to celebrate the launch.
The rally was followed by a fireworks display along the Taedonggang, a river that runs through central Pyongyang.
North Korea often stages rallies in the square to mark events that it wants to underscore as particularly significant. A similar rally was held last month on the anniversary of the beginning of the 195053 Korean War.
Thursday’s drills in South Korea were aimed at boosting readiness against possible maritime North Korean aggression. They involved 15 warships, including a 3,200-ton-class destroyer, as well as helicopters and fighter jets, South Korea’s navy said in a statement.
People dance Thursday in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to celebrate the test launch of North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missile that took place earlier this week.