Trump praises China for abstaining from UN vote

Trump praises China for abstaining from UN vote
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President Trump applauded China for its decision Wednesday  to abstain from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning last week's chemical attack on civilians in Syria. 

China's decision to abstain was a welcome development for America as it works to ramp up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad, although a Russia veto kept the measure from passing.

"I think it's wonderful that they abstained. As you know, very few people expected that," Trump said Wednesday in the White House's East Room alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

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"We are honored by the vote. That's the vote that should have taken place." 

Trump said he was "not surprised" that China abstained on the resolution introduced by the United States, France and the United Kingdom, which also called for an international probe of the incident. 

While Trump signaled a hands-off approach to the Syrian civil war throughout his campaign and the early months of his presidency, the chemical weapons attack in Syria, for which America blames Assad, changed his mind. Trump sent 59 missiles to strike a Syrian airfield from which Americans believe the attack originated shortly after footage of the civilian casualties came out.

Trump also extended his kind words to China's help in pressuring North Korea after a handful of missile tests meant to provoke the international community. While praising Xi, Trump said he told the Chinese leader that cooperation with North Korea now could be beneficial to his country's economy later. 

"I think he wants to help us with North Korea," Trump said of Xi. 

"I said, ‘The way you are going to make a good trade deal is to help us with North Korea.' Otherwise, we are just going to go it alone, but going it alone means going at it with a lot of other nations. President Xi, I think he means well and I think he wants to help. Well see whether or not he does."

Trump has sought to put pressure on China to address the growing threat posed by North Korea.

After the pair met in Florida last week, a Navy strike group moved toward the Korean Peninsula. 

While the White House has been tight-lipped about the conversation between the two men on Tuesday, Chinese state media quoted Xi as telling Trump that China supports the "denuclearization of the peninsula."