Date
13 December 2017
The meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump takes place barely 48 hours after North Korea's Kim Jong-un (above) carried out a provocative missile launch. Photo: Reuters
The meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump takes place barely 48 hours after North Korea's Kim Jong-un (above) carried out a provocative missile launch. Photo: Reuters

Xi, Trump hold first summit amid growing North Korea threat

The presidents of the world’s two pre-eminent economic and military powers will rendezvous in the south Florida sun at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate for a summit already clouded by geopolitical storms, AFP reports.

North Korea’s provocative missile launch Wednesday — barely 48 hours before the summit starts — will only accentuate differences over whether to confront or contain that recalcitrant regime.

The Trump White House worries Pyongyang is just months away from marrying nuclear and long-range missile technology and putting the west coast of the United States within striking distance.

During his first meeting with then president Barack Obama in November, Trump was warned he may have to make an early decision on the use of force against North Korea.

The tough-talking new president has repeatedly and very publicly indicated his openness to military action.

Even before news of the latest missile test became public, a senior US official echoed that message, saying “the clock has now run out” on dealing with the North Korean threat and “all options are on the table for us.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to the missile test with a terse statement, saying: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea.”

But according to the official, Trump is also willing to consider other ways of pressuring the regime, including sanctioning Chinese banks who do business with Pyongyang if Beijing does not move to choke the North’s finances.

That could have a chilling effect on global finance, even though diplomats say North Korea is increasingly alive to the risk and has steadily been funneling cash to Singapore and other jurisdictions outside China.

Xi’s government — which is treaty-bound to defend North Korea — fears US military action would set off a general war on the Korean Peninsula and generate millions of refugees.

And Chinese analysts scoffed at the idea that Trump’s tough talk would have any impact on Beijing’s approach to its renegade neighbor.

“China has established principles on the DPRK issue,” said Yang Xiyu, researcher at China Institute of International Studies.

“There will definitely be in-depth discussion of the DPRK’s denuclearization, but the Chinese side will not change its positions because of anything Trump says.”

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CG/RA

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