US President Donald Trump speaks during an event with US military personnel at Yokota Air Base at Fussa in Tokyo.
BEIJING - US President Donald Trump arrived in China on Wednesday after giving North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a stark warning, telling him that the nuclear weapons he is developing “are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger.”
Trump used some of his toughest language yet against North Korea in a wide-ranging address in Seoul that lodged specific accusations of chilling human rights abuses against Pyongyang. He called on countries around the world to isolate Pyongyang by denying it “any form of support, supply or acceptance.”
“Do not underestimate us and do not try us,” Trump told North Korea as he wrapped up a visit to South Korea with a speech to the National Assembly before heading to Beijing, where he was making his first official visit.
Trump painted a dystopian picture of the reclusive North, saying people were suffering in “gulags” and some bribed government officials to work as “slaves” overseas rather than live under the government at home. He offered no evidence to support those accusations.
Trump’s return to harsh, uncompromising language against North Korea came a day after he appeared to dial back the bellicose rhetoric that had fuelled fears across east Asia of the risk of military conflict. On Tuesday, Trump had even offered a diplomatic opening to Pyongyang to “make a deal.”
He went mostly on the attack in Wednesday’s speech but did promise a “path to a much better future” for North Korea if it stopped developing ballistic missiles and agreed to “complete, verifiable and total denuclearisation” – something Pyongyang has vowed never to do.
“We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated,” he told South Korean lawmakers. “And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here, on this ground we fought and died to secure.”
“The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens it with nuclear devastation,” Trump said, speaking as three U.S. aircraft carrier groups sailed to the Western Pacific for exercises - a rare show of such U.S. naval force in the region.
In Beijing, Trump will ask China to abide by United Nations resolutions and cut financial links with North Korea, a senior White House official said on the plane from Seoul.
Trump believes any talks with North Korea would require reducing threats, ending provocations and movement toward denuclearisation, and that no deal can be achieved without denuclearisation, the official added.
Trump and his wife Melania were greeted at Beijing’s airport by a military band playing a festive tune before heading for the Forbidden City in the political and cultural heart of Beijing.
They descended from a red-carpeted staircase rolled up to the main door of Air Force One. That was in contrast to a 2016 visit to China by his predecessor, Barack Obama, who was forced to exit his plane from a lower door, in what was seen as a snub.
During his speech in Seoul, Trump aimed his words directly at Kim.
“The weapons that you are acquiring are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.”
However Trump, whose strategy has stressed sanctions and military pressure instead of diplomacy, did not spell out any new approach to force North Korea to abandon its missile and weapons programmes.