Ahead of his visit to China, President Donald Trump is expected to pressure China to put more pressure on North Korea, in a speech he will deliver Tuesday evening before South Korea’s National Assembly.
The president is expected to give a strongly worded, “dramatic” speech targeting Kim Jong Un’s regime, while calling on China and the international community to press for direct confrontation of the North Korean leader’s aggressive behavior.
It will be a major test of whether he can formulate an approach differing from that of his predecessors that will encourage North Korea to improve its behavior and avoid the disastrous last resort of military conflict.
On Monday in South Korea, Trump suggested he could “make a deal” with the regime, urging North Korea to “come to the table,” but would not say whether he still believes direct talks are a waste of time.
The president is expected to condemn North Korea as a “sad backwards state,” and denounce their record on human rights, while contrasting the regime with that of South Korea, where he’s expected to reaffirm the U.S.–South Korean alliance and “offer a hopeful vision for the future of the peninsula,” according to a senior White House official familiar with the speech.
In addition, there is big political pressure to relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terror and national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters last week the administration is considering it.
“That’s an option that’s under consideration. The president’s Cabinet is looking at this as part of the overall strategy on North Korea,” he said.
While the news is not expected to come during the speech today, a senior administration official told ABC News that conversations are “ongoing” and “fluid” as to when to make the announcement, adding “it’s a matter of when rather than if.”
During his inaugural trip to China, Trump will be forced to confront arguably a more complex and immediate array of diplomatic, trade and security challenges than any of his predecessors. He has publicly touted his strong rapport with China’s President Xi Jingping, but Trump will now have to flex his deal-making muscle in Xi’s home turf.
Trump will vouch for a more favorable trade relationship on the U.S. side with financial transactions, oil exports and coal imports as elements of the discussion, an official said.
He’s also expected to confront China on increasing incursions into the South China Sea and Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property.