Syria strike 'vindicates' North Korea's nuclear choice

Jerome Frank
April 12, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his USA counterpart Donald Trump on Friday pledged to expand mutually beneficial cooperation and to manage their differences based on mutual respect.

US President Donald Trump ditched his trademark anti-China bombast, hailing an "outstanding" relationship with counterpart Xi Jinping at the end of a superpower summit Friday overshadowed by events in Syria.

Syrian activists say new airstrikes have hit the town of Khan Sheikhoun, where a chemical attack Tuesday killed more than 80 people and led to USA retaliation, CNN reports.

The US surprise attack on the Syrian government forces, the Trump administration's first military action, was also a sign that Trump, when necessary, could take a more aggressive approach to security issues than his predecessor, Barack Obama.

But the two sides avoided any diplomatic gaffes at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that would have tarnished the meeting in the eyes of the protocol-conscious Chinese. As a result, the UN Security Council tightened the sanctions regime for North Korea in an attempt to force Pyongyang to stop ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests, including imposing a measure meant to affect the country's trade, export of natural resources, arms trade and the banking sector.

With North Korea, the underlying issues are just as complex, but the threat of a nuclear conflict - or even a devastating conventional military attack on South Korea and Japan - makes the stakes far higher.

Taking action against North Korea has been a sticking point in US talks with the Chinese.

Thursday night's strikes - some 60 cruise missiles fired from two ships in the Mediterranean - were the culmination of a rapid, three-day transformation for Trump, who has long opposed deeper US involvement in Syria's civil war.

"There is a real commitment to work together to see if this can not be resolved in a peaceful way", said Tillerson.

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Syria denies it carried out the attack. "Why have you attacked the Syrian army which is at war with terrorists?" Xi described the meeting as "unique", and praised Trump for his "excellent preparations".

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In the talks, Trump pressed Xi to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear program and the two agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting US exports and reducing the gaping USA trade deficit with Beijing. After months of allegations of ties between his election campaign and the Kremlin - the subject of current congressional and FBI investigations - Trump has found himself clashing with Putin.

A senior administration official said Trump informed Xi about the strikes as their dinner concluded on Thursday night.

US industry had hoped Trump would deliver a strong message to Xi behind closed doors to end what they see as discriminatory trade policies, but not do anything rash to spark a trade war. Trump could be seen chatting and gesturing to Xi, who did the same.

The White House downplayed expectations for a breakthrough on issues like trade and tariffs, insisting that the 24-hour summit is mostly an introductory meeting for the two leaders.

North Korea has conducted five underground nuclear tests, two of them previous year, and is working to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that could deliver a warhead to USA territory.

"But I can see that, I think long-term, we are going to have a very, very great relationship and I look very much forward to it".

The official Chinese account of the talks in Xinhua did not mention North Korea.

The two leaders spent Friday in a series of working sessions.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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