Trump discusses N. Korea ‘menace’
He, Asian allies meet, hold talks
HAMBURG, Germany — Wrapping up his second European tour, President Donald Trump searched for consensus with Asian allies Saturday on how to counter the “menace” of North Korea after its test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“Something has to be done about it,” Trump said as he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In a separate meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said the two were tackling “the problem and menace of North Korea.”
The White House said after the meeting with Abe that the U.S. was “prepared to use the full range of capabilities” in defense of Japan. Trump and Abe committed, the White House said, “to redoubling their efforts to
bring all nations together to show North Korea that there are consequences for its threatening and unlawful actions.”
The Trump administration has tried to pressure Beijing to rein in North Korea, a major trading partner of China, and halt Kim Jong Un’s development of nuclear weapons before they can threaten U.S. territory. Trump has voiced his frustration in recent days that China hasn’t done more, suggesting that he may take steps of his own.
But during their meeting, Trump told Xi, “I appreciate the things that you have done relative to the very substantial problem that we all face in North Korea.”
Xi said during the meeting that “sensitive issues remain” in the China-U.S. relationship, and more work needs to be done. But he said he had built with Trump a “close contact.”
Trump’s extensive schedule of meetings with Abe, Xi, British Prime Minister Theresa May and others came on the final day of the annual Group of 20 summit, which has been marked by violent demonstrations by anti-globalization activists. Trump also had a brief, unscheduled meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the situation in Syria.
Abe, speaking through a translator, noted that the security situation in the Asia Pacific region has become “increasingly severe” because of North Korea’s push to develop its ballistic missile and nuclear program. Abe said he wanted to “demonstrate the robust partnership as well as the bonds” between Japan and the U.S. on the issue.
Xi and Abe also met Saturday on the sidelines of the G-20 summit as they seek to overcome years of rocky ties to better handle the military threat from North Korea.
In their 40-minute meeting, the leaders agreed to enhance talks and exchanges, and continue to put pressure on Pyongyang, according to Japan’s Kyodo News. It was the two leaders’ first formal discussion in 10 months.
Abe held a “very friendly” meeting with Xi, Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama told reporters in Hamburg. The Japanese leader told Xi that he wants a summit between Japan, China and South Korea at the “earliest possible” opportunity, Maruyama said. Abe invited Xi to visit next year, Kyodo reported.
North Korea’s successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile was a milestone in its long-term effort to build a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to attack the United States.
The issue was a frequent topic of discussion at the summit, and the White House said earlier that the U.S., South Korea and Japan were pressing for additional measures against North Korea to demonstrate the “serious consequences” for its latest provocations.
The three nations have been calling for “early adoption” of a new U.N. Security Council resolution and additional sanctions against Pyongyang.
Getting China on board is a key part of the plan. The administration wants China to fully enforce international sanctions intended to starve Pyongyang of revenue for its nuclear and missile programs. But Trump has been dissatisfied with China’s response.
Earlier in the week, he vented on Twitter that trade between China and North Korea had grown nearly 40 percent at the start of 2017. “So much for China working with us — but we had to give it a try!”
Trump officials said later that the president hadn’t given up on the relationship.
SHOW OF FORCE
Also Saturday, officials said two U.S. bombers flew to the Korean Peninsula to join fighter jets from South Korea and Japan for a practice bombing run Friday as part of a training mission in response to North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
U.S. military officials described the mission as a defensive show of force and unity from the three allied nations, and said it demonstrated “the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies.”
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland,” Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, U.S. Pacific Air Forces commander, said in a statement from Pacific Air Forces. “Let me be clear: If called upon we are trained, equipped and ready to unleash the full lethal capability of our allied air forces.”
The U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam conducted a 10-hour sequenced bilateral mission with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, the statement said.
“U.S. bombers and Republic of Korea fighters are just two of many lethal military options at our disposal,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, U.S. Forces Korea deputy commander. “This mission clearly demonstrates the U.S.-[Republic of Korea] alliance remains prepared to use the full range of capabilities to defend and to preserve the security of the Korean Peninsula and region.”
When the B-1Bs reached the Korean Peninsula, they were joined by South Korean F-15 fighter jets and U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets. The B-1Bs practiced what officials called “attack capabilities” by releasing inert weapons at the Pilsung Range.
As the bombers returned to Guam, they flew over the East China Sea with F-2 fighter jets of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the statement said.
“The U.S.-Japan alliance and the relationship between our militaries are stronger than they have ever been,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, U.S. Forces Japan commander. “We continue to train with our Japanese allies to ensure we are ready to defend ourselves from attack.”
MEETING WITH PUTIN
Earlier Saturday, Trump said he had a “tremendous meeting” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his first comments about the Friday talks with the Russian leader. Trump raised the issue of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections and discussed plans for a cease-fire in Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that Trump and Putin had a “robust and lengthy” discussion about Russian election interference but Putin denied any involvement.
Putin, in a news conference Saturday, offered his version of events and said he thought Trump believed his in-person denials of Russian meddling. White House officials traveling aboard Air Force One did not dispute that account.
Tillerson, who took part in the meeting, said Trump had been “rightly focused on how do we move forward from something that may be an intractable disagreement at this point?”
Trump also joined a women’s entrepreneurial finance event, a project spearheaded by his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump. He lauded his daughter’s efforts to help female entrepreneurs, joking that “if she weren’t my daughter, it would be so much easier for her.”
Trump was flying back to Washington on Saturday evening after the conclusion of the annual G-20 meetings. He won’t be stateside for long: The president is scheduled to return to Europe this week to attend Bastille Day celebrations in Paris.