President Trump plans to press Chinese President Xi Jinping this week to take a tougher approach to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the White House said Tuesday.
Trump will deliver the message to Xi during two days of talks Thursday and Friday at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
“I can tell you that it is now urgent,” a senior White House official said of North Korea during a briefing in advance of Xi’s visit. “The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table for us.”
It’s the latest in a series of increasingly dire warnings from the Trump administration about the danger posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
The president recently said that if China does not take action on North Korea, the U.S. will.
“Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you,” Trump said in a weekend interview with the Financial Times.
“And China has great influence over North Korea,” he said. “And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”
Trump indicated that trade could serve as an incentive for China to work with the U.S. on North Korea.
Senior White House officials indicated Trump would ask Xi to “exert economic leverage” on the nation, noting that 90 percent of its external trade is with China.
North Korea is expected to be at the top of the list of issues Trump will discuss with Xi, along with trade and disputes between China and other Asian nations in the South China Sea.
Trump has said he wants to break with the Obama administration’s approach of “strategic patience” toward North Korea, in which the U.S. refused to directly negotiate with leader Kim Jong Un until he gave up his nuclear weapons.
The decision came after Obama’s aides reportedly told Trump’s team after the presidential election that North Korea was their greatest national security concern.
“We feel that the clock is very, very quickly running out,” the White House official said. “We would have loved to see North Korea join the community of nations. They have been given that opportunity over the course of different dialogues and offers over the course of four administrations.”