Trump defends North Korea diplomacy, blames China for lack of progress

Credit: Jamie Dupree

Credit: Jamie Dupree

With little evidence that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is making concessions to abandon his country's nuclear weapons program, President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his administration's diplomatic work with the Pyongyang regime, in part saying that trade troubles with China slowed progress since his summit with Kim in June.

"I think we're doing well with North Korea," the President said, just a few days after he scrapped a planned trip to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as the North Korean government publicly criticized, the U.S. over efforts at denuclearization.

"I have a fantastic relationship with Chairman Kim as all of you know," the President told reporters, referring to his June summit in Singapore with the North Korean leader. "We're just going to have see how it all turns out."

A day after Defense Secretary James Mattis said there were no plans to abandon upcoming military exercises with South Korea - which President Trump had unilaterally postponed earlier as a goodwill gesture earlier this year - Mr. Trump again seemed to take a different path than Pentagon leaders.

On Twitter, the President said, "there is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts...of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games," though Mr. Trump - reserved the right to re-start such military activities,

vowing "they will be far bigger than ever before," if needed..

"I think part of the North Korea problem is caused by our trade disputes with China," the President said, pointing a finger of blame at Beijing.

"China makes it much more difficult in terms of our relationship with North Korea," as the President accused China of not enforcing economic sanctions against Pyongyang.

In Congress, Democrats said the President's Singapore summit - and his move to cancel the military exercises - had clearly done nothing to sway the North Korean regime.

"Sadly, when Trump cancelled joint exercises with South Korea, he violated Rule #1 of negotiations: Make no major concession without getting something for it," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).