Trump Will Send 'Clear Signal' to Xi Jinping That U.S. Expects Action on North Korean Threat

Update: PACOM tracked yet another missile fired by North Korea today

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April 4, 2017

Update: Pacific Command announced tonight that it had detected and tracked a missile launched by North Korea.

"The missile was tracked until it landed in the Sea of Japan at 11:51 a.m.," according to a statement from PACOM. "Initial assessments indicate the type of missile was a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile."

The initial response from the Trump White House was terse.

"North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

Original story below. 

President Donald Trump will issue a "clear signal" to Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States expects Beijing to pressure North Korea into reigning in its weapons programs when the two leaders meet later this week, a senior White House official said Tuesday evening.

The official, addressing reporters during a background briefing at the White House, said North Korea poses an "urgent threat" to the United States and its allies as it moves closer to completing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the homeland.

"The clock has now run out, and all options are now on the table for us," the official said.

The official said the United States is weighing secondary sanctions against Chinese companies conducting business with North Korea in violation of existing U.S. and UN sanctions. The Trump administration launched a review of U.S. policy toward North Korea in February.

"The president has been pretty clear in messaging how important it is for China to coordinate with the United States and for China to begin exerting its considerable economic leverage to bring about a peaceful resolution to that problem," the official said. "Certainly, it is going to come up in their discussions."

China accounts for more than 90 percent of Pyongyang's trade, including nearly all of its exports. The official said while China's political influence with North Korea may have decreased, "clearly its economic leverage has not." The White House wants to pressure China to "thoroughly implement" existing UN sanctions and resolutions.

Trump will not explicitly detail potential U.S. retributions against China if it refuses to act, the official said, noting that the president "is not someone who wants to broadcast all of the ins and outs of his strategy in advance."

Trump's two-day summit with Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida beginning Thursday will lay the groundwork for the two leaders to coordinate on issues like North Korea threat and trade. Trump predicted last week that the meeting would be "very difficult," writing on Twitter that the United States can no longer endure "massive trade deficits" with China.

Xi is likely to raise objections to the impending U.S. deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system to South Korea. The official said Trump would make clear the administration will defend U.S. allies against any threat.

"There will be no move away from protecting our South Korean allies," the official said.

The comments from the White House arrive two days after the Financial Times published an interview with the president where he declared that America would pursue unilateral action to restrain North Korea if Beijing refuses to help.

Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, pushed back on the suggestion of unilateral action Tuesday morning, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee that a U.S. solution to North Korean aggression must involve China.