President Trump said Wednesday that Russia is undermining U.S. attempts to economically isolate North Korea, suggesting that Moscow is giving Pyongyang vital access to oil and coal supplies in violation of international sanctions.
During an exclusive interview with Reuters, Mr. Trump praised China for taking recent steps to restrict the flow of oil and coal to North Korea, but also said that Beijing could be doing more and that what the Chinese are doing is being undercut by Moscow.
“What China is helping us with, Russia is denting,” the president said. “In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.”
Reuters maintained that it had been told by Western European security sources in late December that Russian tankers had supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea in violation of international sanctions.
Russia has denied breaching North Korea sanctions.
On a separate front, a Reuters article summarizing Wednesday’s 53-minute interview with Mr. Trump cited the president as declining to comment on whether he has engaged in any private communications with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but also casting doubt on whether talks with Mr. Kim would be useful.
“I’d sit down, but I’m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem,” Mr. Trump said, noting that past negotiations with the North Koreans by his predecessors had failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
“I’m not sure that talks will lead to anything meaningful,” the president said. “They’ve talked for 25 years and they’ve taken advantage of our presidents, of our previous presidents.”
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