NEW YORK -- President Donald Trump said North Korea “is looking for trouble” Tuesday, warning China that the U.S. “will solve the problem without them” if China doesn’t pressure the North over its nuclear weapon program.
In a series of tweets Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said he “explained” to China’s leader that “a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”
Mr. Trump made the remarks just hours after North Korea vowed a tough response to any military moves that might follow the U.S.’ decision to send the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula.
Tensions on the peninsula are high as U.S.-South Korea wargames are underway and after North Korea recently launched ballistic missiles. Pyongyang sees the annual maneuvers as a dress rehearsal for invasion, while the North’s missile launches violate U.N. resolutions.
“We will hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions,” a spokesman for its Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying by the state-run Korean Central News Agency late Monday.
Mr. Trump’s comments on U.S. willingness to act on North Korea without China’s help echo remarks he made earlier this month. He said in an interview with the Financial Times that the U.S. is prepared to act alone if China doesn’t take a tougher stand against North Korea’s nuclear program.
“Yes, we will talk about North Korea,” Mr. Trump told the newspaper. “And China has great influence over North Korea. 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.”
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” he said.
Mr. Trump said trade was the incentive for China to work with the U.S. -- and also said the U.S. could “totally” handle the situation in North Korea without China’s help.
The U.S.-China relationship has been under pressure over trade and North Korea as well as China’s expansion in the South China Sea. As a candidate, Mr. Trump repeatedly blasted China, accusing Beijing of unfair trade practices that he equated to “rape” and “theft,” CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reported.
Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last week at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.