Muslim Times(Web Desk) – US Senator Lindsey Graham says China may have pressured North Korea to take a harder line against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the latest round of denuclearization talks in Pyongyang.
“I see China’s hands all over this. We’re in a fight with China,” Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.
North Korea, in a statement released Saturday hours after talks with Pompeo ended, called the negotiations “regrettable” and accused the US of making “gangster-like” demands for denuclearization.
Graham placed blame for the North’s colder attitude on Chinese influence, saying that the outbreak of a trade dispute between Washington and Beijing was to blame for the antagonism.
The tit-for-tat tariffs between the US and China have prompted global concern over the possibility of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
“If I were President Trump, I would not let China use North Korea to back me off of the trade dispute. We’ve got more bullets than they do when it comes to trade,” he added.
China is North Korea’s longtime ally and largest trading partner.
Graham, among the most hawkish lawmakers in the Senate, warned China against stepping up the trade conflict. “We can hurt them more than they hurt us,” he said.
Graham also issued a warning to North Korea. In talks with Pompeo, Kim Yong Chol, a senior North Korean official, suggested the top US diplomat might not have slept well given the weight of the denuclearization talks, to which Pompeo responded: “I slept just fine.”
“And to our North Korean friends, I can’t say the word ‘friend’ yet,” Graham said. “You asked Pompeo: ‘Did he sleep well?’ If you knew what I knew about what we could do to the leadership of North Korea, you wouldn’t sleep very well.“
During a much-publicized summit in Singapore last month, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed a brief, broadly-worded document, according to which both sides committed to working toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”