As Trump Bets on China’s Help on North Korea, Aides Ask: Is It Worth It?

As Trump Bets on China’s Help on North Korea, Aides Ask: Is It Worth It?
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As Trump Bets on China’s Help on North Korea, Aides Ask: Is It Worth It?

WASHINGTON – There is no foreign leader that President Trump has more bets than Xi Jinping in China.

The game M. Trump was based on his calculation that Xi, the Chinese president, could exert strong pressure on North Korea to put an end to its nuclear weapons and missile programs. To assure Xi’s cooperation, the President launched his firm stance on China’s trade practices and said very little about his South China Sea adventure.

However, a growing number of Trump help worries that the bet is not paying.

China has not significantly strengthened pressure on North Korea since Mr. Trump met Xi in Palm Beach, Florida in April. His inability to make more frustrated White House officials intend to raise the issue with his Chinese counterparts during a high-level meeting here on June 21.

The reluctance of China to exert influence in this sense Trump left the administration with few good options to deal with the North Korean crisis. And that can bring management to try to negotiate with North Korean leaders, a move that did not work for the predecessors of M. Trump, but seemed to embrace regularly.

The White House has taken careful step in the coupling direction this week sent a senior diplomat to North Korea to secure the release of Otto F. Warmbier, a seriously ill American prisoner. The meeting, said some former US officials, could be the predicate of such talks.

But the inhuman treatment of North Korea Mr. Warmbier, 22, complicating the prospects of diplomacy. In an emotional press conference Thursday, M. Warmbier’s father said that his son had been “brutally and terrified” for 18 months in captivity; Doctors said the son had suffered severe neurological damage.

However, current and former officials said the government could not change its strategy because of the poor treatment of an American, no matter how horrible. The most likely outcome, they said, is that all future contacts with North Korea will be carried out in the most absolute secrecy.

“Trump management has made it clear that this is a holistic approach,” said Daniel R. Russel, who was the assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs under President Barack Obama. “They will explore what kind of formal or informal contacts with North Korea can advance the cause.”

M. Trump’s aides are also motivated by recent elections in South Korea, which has led to the power of a progressive leader more interested in the commitment than the confrontation with the North. The president, Moon Jae-in, approved the deployment of a United States missile system.

The Chinese are among the most interested in a meeting between Mr. Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, officials said, partly because he would focus on a solution in Washington, not Beijing . For now, however, the White House focuses more on China to pressure its neighbor.

M. Trump took office promising to deal with China on a number of issues. But the imminent danger posed by North Korea’s nuclear missile program has changed that calculation.

In April, he said Xi would be his buddy around M. Kim. Two weeks later, the Treasury Department has refused to designate China as a currency manipulator, which Mr. Trump had promised to do during his presidential campaign.

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