by Staff Writers
Riyadh (AFP) April 18, 2017
The United States and China are working "closely" together over North Korea, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday, two days after a new missile test by Pyongyang.
Sunday's test "shows why we are working so closely right now with the Chinese, coming out of the Mar-a-Lago meeting" in Florida between the two nations' leaders earlier this month, Mattis told reporters.
The American-Chinese effort seeks to "get this under control and aim for the denuclearised Korean peninsula" desired by China, the US, South Korea and Japan, he said as he flew to the Middle East for a tour.
"We all share that same interest."
North Korea has defied international pressure over its quest to develop a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the US mainland.
American officials said the missile test-fired on Sunday exploded seconds after launch.
North Korea still has many technical problems to resolve, but the intensity of its current testing worries Pentagon strategists.
Estimates vary about how much time Pyongyang would still need to build intercontinental ballistic missiles, but some at the Pentagon think it could happen within two years.
Others believe several more years might be needed, noting the difficulty of designing and testing the warhead.
This component, which contains the nuclear bomb, must be able to resist the enormous heat and shock accompanying its atmospheric re-entry after being fired into space.
Mattis arrived on Tuesday in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, his first stop on the Middle East tour that will also see him visit Egypt, Israel, Qatar and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
Trump praises China for helping on North Korea
In the comments to Fox News, Trump cited the strength of his newfound relationship with President Xi Jinping in explaining why he has dropped his past criticism of China.
"Now, what am I going to do? Start a trade war with China while in the middle of him working on a bigger problem, frankly, with North Korea?" he said. "So, I'm dealing with China with great respect. I have great respect for him. Now, we'll see what he can do."
"What am I going to do? In the middle of him talking with North Korea I'm going to hit them with currency manipulation? This is the fake media that just does a number," he said, speaking Monday on the sidelines of the annual White House Easter egg roll.
"Think of it. He's working so nicely. Many coal ships have been sent back, fuel has been sent back. They're not dealing the same way. Nobody's ever seen it like that. Nobody's ever seen such a positive response on our behalf from China."
The turning point in Trump's relationship with China appears to have come when he met with Xi at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on April 6-7.
During the US presidential campaign, Trump harshly attacked Beijing as a currency manipulator and threatened to slap 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports.
Since taking office, however, US tensions with North Korea have soared amid a drumbeat of missile tests and fears Pyongyang may be readying a sixth nuclear test.
When asked if he had ruled out some sort of military strike against North Korea, Trump said he did not wish to reveal his plans.
"I don't want to telegraph what I'm doing or what I'm thinking," he said.
"I hope there's going to be peace, but they've been talking with this gentleman (Kim Jong-un) for a long time. You read (Bill) Clinton's book and he said 'Oh, we made such a great peace deal' and it was a joke. You look at different things over the years with President Obama. Everybody has been outplayed. They've all been outplayed by this gentleman and we'll see what happens."
US experts believe that only China has sufficient economic and political leverage to restrain Pyongyang's drive to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead.
Seoul (AFP) April 17, 2017
US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea Monday not to test Donald Trump's resolve, declaring that "all options are on the table" in curbing its missile and nuclear weapons programmes. Defying international pressure, the North test-fired another missile on Sunday as fears grow that it may also be preparing for its sixth nuclear weapons test. "We hope to achieve this objective (the ... read more
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