UPDATE : 2018.9.25 TUE 18:42
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Trump discusses N. Korea with China's Xi and Japan's Abe

WASHINGTON, July 3 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday and discussed growing threats from North Korea, the White House said.

"President Trump raised the growing threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula," the White House said in a statement about the call with Xi.

The conversation came after the U.S. downgraded China's human trafficking status and blacklisted China's Bank of Dandong as a primary money laundering concern. These measures were widely seen as reflecting U.S. frustration after months of fruitless efforts to persuade Beijing to rein in the North.

Last month, Trump also complained in a Tweet that Chinese efforts have "not worked out." Last week, the U.S. also approved the first arms sales to Taiwan since Trump came into office, sparking sharp anger from Beijing.

These contrasted sharply with April's decision not to label China a currency manipulator in order to avoid hurting Chinese feelings at a time when the U.S. was asking for its help to bring the provocative regime in Pyongyang under control.

During the call, Trump also reiterated his determination to seek more balanced trade relations, the White House said. The two leaders also discussed a range of other regional and bilateral issues and affirmed that they look forward to meeting at the G20 in Germany, it said.

China is North Korea's last-remaining major ally and a key provider of food and fuel supplies. But it has been reluctant to use its influence over Pyongyang for fear that pushing the regime too hard could result in instability in the North and hurt Chinese national interests.

Analysts doubt how far China can go in pressuring Pyongyang, saying China has often increased pressure on the North in the past, especially when Pyongyang carried out nuclear and missile tests and other provocative acts, but it never went as far as to cause real pain.

North Korea was also a top issue in Trump's call with Abe.

"The two leaders exchanged views on the growing threat from North Korea, including their unity with respect to increasing pressure on the regime to change its dangerous path," the White House said. "They reaffirmed that the U.S.-Japan alliance stands ready to defend and respond to any threat or action taken by North Korea."

They also discussed a range of other regional and global issues of mutual interest, the White House said.

Adam Lee  edt@koreapost.com

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