Trump cosies up to China, warns North Korea

  • 09/11/2017
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with opera performers at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC150D639FE0
Photo credit: Reuters

With lavish pageantry and an uncharacteristic personal flourish, Chinese President Xi Jinping rolled out a red carpet welcome for US President Donald Trump at the Forbidden City, the ancient home of China's emperors.

While North Korea and trade are set to dominate the formal part of the visit, which ends on Friday, China has been keen to show the importance it puts on Mr Trump's first official visit.

Mr Trump and his wife Melania were whisked from Beijing airport - where they were met on Wednesday by China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, a key player in the outreach to Mr Trump since he won election a year ago - straight to the Forbidden City.

Chatting over cups of tea, Mr Trump showed Mr Xi a video of his granddaughter Arabella Kushner singing in Mandarin and reciting classical Chinese poetry, prompting Mr Xi to compliment her performance as worthy of an "A+", Chinese state media said.

Mr Xi said he hoped Arabella would visit China soon, noting that she was already a "child star" in China, the official Xinhua news agency said.

A video of Arabella reciting a Chinese poem went viral on Chinese social media shortly after Mr Trump's election last year.

In another break from precedent, Mr Xi himself gave the Trumps a tour of the imperial treasures of the Forbidden City, a UNESCO World Heritage site cleared of tourists for the day, before the two first couples watched Chinese opera and an acrobatic display.

"That's something!" Mr Trump said after the show, as he and Mr Xi walked away. "We're having a great time."

Mr Trump is seeking China's help to rein in North Korea, telling the reclusive state's leader he was putting his country in grave danger by developing nuclear weapons.

Mr Trump used some of his toughest language yet against North Korea in a wide-ranging address in Seoul on Wednesday that lodged specific accusations of chilling human rights abuses. 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," Mr Trump told North Korea as he wrapped up a visit to South Korea with a speech to the National Assembly before heading to Beijing.

He did however promise a "path to a much better future" if North Korea stopped developing ballistic missiles and agreed to "complete, verifiable and total denuclearisation" - something Pyongyang has vowed never to do.

Putin, Trump talks at APEC likely - Kremlin

A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US counterpart Mr Trump at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam this week is "highly likely," the Kremlin says.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the two sides were still trying to agree on the best time and format for the meeting.

The two world leaders previously met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July, agreeing to a local ceasefire in Syria and a working group on cybersecurity that Mr Trump later backtracked on.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have soured further since, however.

Mr Trump in August grudgingly signed off on new sanctions against Russia, a move Moscow said ended hopes for better ties.

Mr Putin, dismayed by the sanctions, ordered Washington to more than halve its embassy and consular staff in Russia.

The APEC summit is taking place in the Vietnamese city of Danang from November 8-10.