UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States wants China to prove it is really seeking to stop North Korea’s nuclear testing with actions and President Donald Trump will be pressing Chinese President Xi Jinping on that when they meet in Florida next week, the U.S. ambassador to the United States said Thursday.
Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Trump administration has “no patience” for the “cat and mouse situation” in which North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests and other provocations are met only with U.N. Security Council resolutions that Pyongyang ignores.
She said the U.S. can’t change the way North Korea thinks but “China can.” That will be the focus of the president’s April 6-7 meeting with Xi at his Florida resort, she said.
In a wide-ranging interview with four news agencies, Haley also talked about the new U.S. priorities in Syria and American efforts “to create balance” at the U.N. on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She spoke about her focus on cutting and streamlining U.N. peacekeeping missions and examining human rights violations as key to conflict prevention when the U.S. takes over the Security Council presidency in April.
As for the U.N., she said it has “gotten stale” and she described her hatred for bureaucracy, saying she has avoided it so far by dealing only with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, whom she described as “a partner” committed like she is to reforming the world body.
Haley’s comments on North Korea reflect growing frustration in the Security Council and internationally at the failure of six U.N. sanctions resolutions to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile testing and the expansion of its nuclear program.
Tensions have escalated over North Korean moves to accelerate its weapons development. The North conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests last year despite Security Council bans, deepening concern in Washington that it could soon develop a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
“I know China wants to see North Korea stop with the testing,” Haley said.
“Prove it! Prove it! They need to prove with their actions that they want to see that stopped … and proving it can’t just be stopping the coal intake but allowing it to go through other ways,” she added. “Proving it really is showing them through pressure that you are going to cut them off, and that you take this as seriously as the rest of the world does,” she said.
China is North Korea’s most important source of diplomatic support and economic assistance and it has long urged a resumption of six-nation denuclearization talks that have been on hold since North Korea withdrew from them in 2009.
Beijing says its leverage over Pyongyang is limited. Despite that, China last month suspended imports of North Korean coal for the rest of the year, depriving Kim Jong Un’s regime of a crucial source of foreign currency, though Haley’s comments indicated that Beijing is allowing imports in other ways.
Haley said she expects Trump and Xi to “talk very much about the responsibility that we believe China has — the fact that we don’t have the patience to sit here and see it go round and round anymore and the fact that that we want action.”
She said she expects them to discuss “how that action can come about, and discuss what level of action president Trump thinks it should be.”
Haley said she has also told Chinese and Russian diplomats at the U.N. that “they are the answer to some solutions and … we want to see action.”
She warned that if North Korea launches an intercontinental ballistic missile, which could reach the U.S., or conducts another test, “we are not just going to sit down and say, ‘Oh, that they did it again.'”
“This is something this administration is making a priority and this is something that we absolutely expect China and Russia to respond to,” Haley said.
On Syria, she said the Trump administration thinks President Bashar Assad is “a hindrance” to ending the war but “our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.”
“What we are going to focus on is putting the pressure in there so that we can start to make a change in Syria,” she said. “We want to get the Iranian influence out because that is really a problem. We want to see how we’re going to be dealing with Turkey on this, how we’re going to be dealing with the different players on this, and at the end of the day try and work with everyone to bring peace and stability back to the area.”
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Haley called the Security Council resolution adopted in December condemning Israeli settlements and demanding an end to construction “a kick in the gut” that was “hurtful to the American people.”
She said the condemnation will stand because “we can’t change what they did, but we can sure change our actions in how we deal with it.” She cited several actions the Trump administration has taken to counter what it considers anti-Israeli bias, including getting Guterres to remove a report from a U.N. website that accused Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime.”
Haley has also complained about anti-Israel bias at the Human Rights Council and she said her team is assessing what the Geneva-based agency has done well “and everything that they’ve done that’s just absurd.” She said she plans to visit Geneva to talk to members about what the U.S. thinks an effective council should look like.
If Washington sees changes it likes, it will remain a member and if not “we’ll put out,” she said.
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