President Donald Trump announced a new set of sanctions on North Korea Thursday and praised China for taking action to limit financial transactions with the isolated communist nation.
Trump indicated ahead of talks with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts that China’s leader Xi Jinping — who was not present — had told financial institutions to stop dealing with North Korea.
The step would amount to major progress in US efforts to cut off support for Pyongyang as punishment for its nuclear provocations.
“It is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal rogue regime,” Trump said at the start of the talks, held at a hotel in New York.
The executive order Trump inked just ahead of the lunch enhances US Treasury Department authorities to target individuals who provide goods, services or technology to North Korea, Trump said.
He said the order would also allow the US to identify new industries — including textiles, fishing and manufacturing — as potential targets for future actions.
“Tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now,” he said of providing resources to North Korea.
Asked at the end of a spray with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts whether dialogue was still possible with North Korea, Trump said: “Why not?”
The remark indicates fresh openness for talks with Pyongyang, despite his insistence earlier this month that “talking is not the answer.”
The new sanctions come two days after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it continues to threaten the United States and its allies.
Trump insists that military options are on the table for dealing with North Korea, but his aides have said diplomacy is the preferred outlet for containing the nuclear crisis.
The United Nations Security Council has approved multiple rounds of sanctions on North Korea, including on its exports. But they have yet to stop the communist nation’s leader Kim Jong Un from launching ballistic missile tests.
During talks Thursday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Trump is expected to reiterate that military options are available in retaliation for North Korean threats.
That’s likely to draw a rebuke from Moon, who has ruled out military action and issued warnings on the ramped-up rhetoric coming from Washington.