UNITED NATIONS – The United States wants China to prove that it is really seeking to stop North Korea's nuclear testing with actions — and that's what President Donald Trump will be pressing China's President Xi Jinping to do when they meet in Florida next week, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday.
Haley said the Trump administration has "no patience" for the "cat and mouse situation" where North Korea provocations including banned nuclear and ballistic missile tests are met with U.N. Security Council resolutions that Pyongyang ignores.
She said the U.S. can't change the way North Korea thinks but "China can." And that will be the focus of the president's April 6-7 meeting with Xi at his Florida resort.
In a wide-ranging interview with four news agencies, Haley also talked about the new U.S. priorities in Syria, American efforts "to create balance" at the U.N. on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and her focus on U.N. peacekeeping and human rights when the U.S. takes over the Security Council presidency in April. She also spoke about her hatred for bureaucracy, which she says she's avoided so far at the U.N.
Haley's comments on North Korea reflect growing frustration in the Security Council and internationally at the failure of six U.N. sanctions resolutions to stop Pyongyang's nuclear and missile testing and the expansion of its nuclear program.
Tensions have escalated over North Korean moves to accelerate its weapons development. The North conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests last year, deepening concern in Washington that it could soon develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
"I know China wants to see North Korea stop with the testing," the U.S. ambassador said.
"Prove it! Prove it! They need to prove with their actions that they want to see that stopped ... and proving it can't just be stopping the coal intake but allowing it to go through other ways," Haley said.
"Proving it really is showing them through pressure that you are going to cut them off, and that you take this as seriously as the rest of the world does," Haley said.
China is North Korea's most important source of diplomatic support and economic assistance and has long urged a resumption of six-nation denuclearization talks on hold since North Korea withdrew from them in 2009.
Beijing says its leverage over Pyongyang is limited. Despite that, China last month suspended imports of North Korean coal for the rest of the year, depriving Kim Jong Un's regime of a crucial source of foreign currency though Haley's comments indicate that Beijing is allowing imports in other ways.
Haley said she expects Trump and Xi to "talk very much about the responsibility that we believe China has — the fact that we don't have the patience to sit here and see it go round and round anymore and the fact that that we want action."
She said she expects them to discuss "how that action can come about, and discuss what level of action president Trump thinks it should be."
Haley said she has also told Chinese and Russian diplomats at the U.N. that "they are the answer to some solutions and ... we want to see action."
She warned that if North Korea launches an intercontinental ballistic missile, which could reach the U.S., or conducts another test, "we are not just going to sit down and say, 'Oh, that they did it again.'"
"This is something this administration is making a priority and this is something that we absolutely expect China and Russia to respond to," Haley said.
On Syria, she said the Trump administration is changing U.S. priorities, "and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting (Syrian President Bashar) Assad out."
"What we are going to focus on is putting the pressure in there so that we can start to make a change in Syria," she said. "We want to get the Iranian influence out because that is really a problem. We want to see how we're going to be dealing with Turkey on this, how we're going to be dealing with the different players on this, and at the end of the day try and work with everyone to bring peace and stability back to the area."