Trump to Discuss Trade, North Korea in Call With China’s Xi

U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korea and trade will be among the topics he will discuss with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a phone call scheduled for Tuesday.

“The primary topics will be Trade, where good things will happen, and North Korea, where relationships and trust are building,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The call between the two leaders comes just hours after Xi met Monday and Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, two independent sources told the South China Morning Post.  The Post reported the two leaders met in the northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian.

The report said Xi planned to use the summit with Kim to lay the groundwork for the first sea trial of China’s first aircraft carrier built on Chinese soil.

Trump and Kim are expected to take meet this month or in early June.

Kim visited Beijing in March on his first trip abroad as leader of North Korea, an indication China was still engaged in the denuclearization process on the Korean peninsula.

Mixed messages on US troop withdrawal

Amid preparations for the Trump-Kim summit, South Korean officials have been rattled by reports the U.S. president is considering withdrawing American forces from the peninsula if his talks with Kim go well.

​Trump told reporters Friday that “at some point into the future, I would like to save the money” spent on keeping the U.S. military in South Korea, but the president emphasized that “troops are not on the table” for his talks with Kim.

Earlier Friday, National Security Adviser John Bolton, responding to a New York Times report, termed it “utter nonsense.” “The president has not asked the Pentagon to provide options for reducing American forces stationed in South Korea,” he added.

The Defense Department also said in a statement the newspaper’s story was false.

Trump has stated the United States will continue to apply maximum pressure on Pyongyang until the country denuclearizes, which he has defined as “I want them to get rid of their nukes.”

Formal peace treaty?

South Korean officials say Kim told them he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States officially ended the Korean War.

The North and the United States were among the signatories to a cessation of hostilities in 1953, known as an armistice.

Many analysts are skeptical Kim will agree to abandon his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles merely in exchange for a peace treaty.

“A common definition of denuclearization” would be helpful before a meeting, said Tara O, an adjunct fellow at the Pacific Forum and author of The Collapse of North Korea.  “Otherwise, there would be surprises,” she said.

O, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, told VOA News that Kim and his generals view denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as including a withdrawal of U.S. troops and an end to the U.S.-South Korean alliance in order to remove the American nuclear umbrella and the joint military capability from the peninsula.

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