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.
The effort to project forward momentum in his bid to isolate Pyongyang came at the end of Trump’s four-day visit to the United Nations General Assembly, where the crisis has taken prominence in rapid-pace meetings with more than a dozen world leaders.
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, adding he was calling for “complete denuclearization” in North Korea.
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.
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.
And Trump himself appeared to open the door for talks with North Korea, an option he’d previously ruled out. Asked at the end of the photo-op whether dialogue was still possible with North Korea, Trump said: “Why not?”
The remark indicated fresh openness for talks with Pyongyang, despite his insistence earlier this month that “talking is not the answer.”
During talks Thursday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Trump was expected to reiterate that military options are available in retaliation for North Korean threats.