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Trump looks to forge united front against North Korea on Asia tour

Trump looks to forge united front against North Korea on Asia tour
From CBC - November 5, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump began his Asian tour on the golf course today, playing a friendly game with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But the rest of Trump's trip is not likely to be nearly as breezy.

In fact, with the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons program casting a long shadow, the U.S. faces plenty of hazards. And Trump arrives with his own handicap.

He's widely seen as unpredictable, impulsive and hotheaded, while many see his country as a fading powerputting America first and leaving Asia behind.

The trip is not only the longest foreign visit for this novice president, it's most ambitious Asian tour for any U.S. leader in more than a decade. Over 12days, Trump will visit China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. He will be tested at two major international conferences.

And at every stop, his goal will be to convince "all nations to do more" to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions, according to U.S. national security adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster. He says that's the number one priority.

China will be the main target of the message. Washington believes Beijing still has unused leverage over its ideological ally. China has tightened economic sanctions against North Korea stopping coal imports, capping oil exports and restricting financial transactionsbut it is still by far Pyongyang's main trading partner.

Trump wants more from China

Trump has criticized, cajoled and threatened Beijing in speeches and Twitter messages, in an attempt to get President Xi Jinping to exert more influence. He will try again in person this week, but aside from a polite welcome, Trump is unlikely to walk away with much.

China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but wo not help with North Korea. Nice!

@realDonaldTrump

Xi believes "China has done almost all it can to pressure North Korea," says Zhao Tong from the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing.

Beyond that, says Zhao, "deep distrust between Washington and Beijing is preventing China from cooperating more substantively with the United States." Beijing worries the U.S. is too willing to risk a nuclear war on China's doorstep, while not trying hard enough to find a diplomatic solution.

There have been whispers of secret, back-channel contact between Washington and Pyongyang, but little progress.

Meanwhile, plenty of sabre-rattling.

Trump has threatened to rain "fire and fury" on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whohe dismissively calls "rocket man."

North Korean aggression ahead of Trump's visit

Kim is building nuclear missiles designed to hit the United States, and experts say he may well be on the verge of having that capability. Trump has shouted back, "we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."

Last Friday, American B-1B bombers buzzed North Korea's coast and no fewer than three aircraft carriers are now descending on the region as Trump arrives. That's the biggest show of U.S. firepower around here since 2011.

But militarily, it's hard for Washington to go much farther without risking war and massive retaliatory attacks on U.S. allies South Korea and Japan.

Trade with China is on the agenda

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