Sen. John Kennedy discusses N. Korea tensions with Chinese leaders

Updated: Apr. 18, 2017 at 6:26 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - President Donald Trump got some help from a Louisiana elected official in urging China to help reign in North Korea.

The U.S. wants North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and says the time for "strategic patience" is over.

"Trying to send a message to the North Koreans that they have to make a deal, the president would like to come away from this with a deal. No side wants war," said Tulane Foreign Affairs and International Relations expert, Chris Fettweis.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Madisonville, was part of a congressional delegation that recently traveled to China to urge Chinese Leaders to put pressure on their neighbor, North Korea.

"We asked Premier Li and Chairman Sheng for China's help in trying to negotiate an amicable resolution to this. While we were meeting  President Xi was meeting with President Trump in Florida," Kennedy said.

He liked what he heard from the top-tier Chinese leaders he met.

"They want a peaceful resolution and said they would do everything they can work things out with North Korea, but they could make no commitments," Kennedy said.

And he is supportive of the president's approach to dealing with North Korea.

"I think we have to take Kim Jong Un, the head of North Korea at his word. He has threatened to attack the United States, and South Korea and Japan," said Kennedy.

"What's going on now is negotiations and theater and posturing on both sides, both sides want to appear that anything is on the table and they want the other side to back down. The U.S. goals are fairly clear: We want their missile testing stopped, the North Koreans would like us to recognize them as a country."

Still, Fettweis is not convinced North Korea's missiles could reach U.S. soil right now.

"No, they have a tough time reaching anything beyond their territory," Fettweis said. "In a few years they might have missiles that can reach us, maybe even a shorter period of time. But would they use them? They've had nuclear weapons for 11 years now and their behavior hasn't changed much. They are not a suicidal regime."

China's relationship with North Korea is steeped in trade.

"China is the only country that trades with North Korea, they're their lifeline in a lot of ways," said Fettweis.

"I think China wants to work with the United States, and I think if China is willing they can be an immense help with North Korea because North Korea can't survive without China. China buys their products," said Kennedy.

And Fettweis said China does not always see eye-to-eye with its trade partner.

"They're not happy with all of the nuclear testing, they've told the North Koreans not to do it, they've ignored it, so that's one of the things that's changed, China seems to be coming around a bit," added Fettweis.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.