China Pushes Back on Sen. Graham's North Korea Accusation


A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said today that the claim by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that China was behind the new rift between North Korea and the U.S. "doesn't make any sense."

Over the weekend North Korea put out a damning statement regarding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent negotiations there, calling the meeting "regrettable" and the U.S. demands "gangster-like." It appeared to be a major set-back after President Donald Trump claimed following his own historic visit to North Korea in mid-June that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat, despite the country not having accounted for, much less dismantled, its nuclear arsenal.

Related: What's Not Said in the North Korea Deal: The De Facto 'Double Freeze'

Graham told Fox News on Sunday he suspected the sudden rebuke was China's doing in response to the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

"I see China's hands all over this," he said. "We are in a fight with China... There's no doubt in my mind that it's the Chinese pulling [the] North Koreans back. And to our North Korean friends -- can't say the word friend yet. 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."

Graham advised Trump to "not let China use North Korea to back [him] off the trade dispute."

Related: When America's Last Best Chance With North Korea Slipped Away

Today China's Foreign Ministry responded to the diplomatic setback in North Korea and Graham's accusation.

"The Chinese side has been stressing that we hope that the DPRK [North Korea] and the US can strengthen dialogue and consultation, follow through on the consensus and outcomes of the summit in Singapore and move forward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and political settlement process of the Korean Peninsula issue in the right direction and strive to achieve steady progress in this aspect," spokesperson Hua Chunying said. "Just now you said that some people in the U.S. associated the inconsistency of the statements made by the DPRK and the US after their high-level meeting with China's role in the Korean Peninsula issue. I believe that it does not make any sense. China's attitude on this issue is consistent and clear-cut. We will continue to play a positive role in and make constructive contributions to realizing the denuclearization of the Peninsula and achieving the long-lasting peace and stability of the region."

Despite Trump's bluster after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the confident visage slipped momentarily when he told reporters during a press conference that in six months he could come to find he was "wrong."

“I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse,” he added, smiling.

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