US ready to act alone against North Korea, warns Donald Trump
Donald Trump says the US is prepared to act alone against North Korea if China does not take a tougher stand against Pyongyang's nuclear programme.
The president's comments in an interview with the Financial Times came days before he is set to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate in south Florida.
The two are expected to discuss a number of issues, including North Korea, trade and territorial disputes in the South China Sea during their meeting on Thursday and Friday.
"Yes, we will talk about North Korea," he said. "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."
Mr Trump said trade was the incentive for China to work with him, but he added that the US could "totally" handle the situation in North Korea without China's help.
Asked how he would tackle North Korea, he said: "I'm not going to tell you. You know, I am not the United States of the past where we tell you where we are going to hit in the Middle East."
While China provides diplomatic and economic support to its neighbour, it claims that its influence over Kim Jong Un's government is limited.
The relationship between the US and China has been uncertain since Mr Trump's election. During his campaign he accused Beijing of unfair trade practices and threatened to raise import taxes on Chinese goods and declare China a currency manipulator, although it is unclear whether he will follow through with either threat.
He told the newspaper he does not "want to talk about tariffs yet, perhaps the next time we meet".
Mr Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, also offered tough talk on China, saying on ABC's This Week that the US is pressing Beijing to take a firmer stand on North Korea's nuclear programme.
UN resolutions have failed so far to deter North Korea from conducting nuclear and missile tests. Last year, the North conducted two nuclear tests and two dozen tests of ballistic missiles.
"They need to show us how concerned they are," Ms Haley said. "They need to put pressure on North Korea. The only country that can stop North Korea is China, and they know that."
Asked what the US would do if China did not co-operate, she said: "China has to co-operate."
Former defence secretary Ash Carter said he doubted that Beijing would co-operate.
"I've been working on the North Korea problem since 1994," he said on ABC. "And we have consistently asked Chinese leaders ... because they uniquely have the historical and the economic relationship with North Korea to make a difference.
"They haven't used that influence, and so it's hard for me to be optimistic with that."