China's December trade with North Korea falls 50 percent

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile

"I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un", Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, adding, "I have relationships with people".

As North Korea struggle to cope with economic challenges following sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by United Nations and USA over nuclear and missile development, China says its trade with the Kim Jong Un-led country fell 50 per cent in December from a year earlier. I'm not saying I have or haven't. "China's been helping us a lot, so you can veer a little bit differently, but for the most part everything I have said I have done", he said in response to a question on his electoral promise of being tough on China.

Analysts see North Korea's need for Chinese oil as the most powerful economic leverage against Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the conference of cell chairpersons of the ruling party in Pyongyang
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the conference of cell chairpersons of the ruling party in Pyongyang

"I have relationships with people".

Washington and Pyongyang are in a stand-off over North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes, which could be used to target the United States and her allies.

"Just to be clear, you haven't spoken to the North Korean leader, I mean when you say a relationship with Korea", he was immediately asked. "I just don't want to comment".

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Russian Federation has voted at the United Nations in favor of worldwide sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program, while urging the West to show restraint and calling for talks over the issue. The talks took place against a backdrop of increasingly strict USA -led sanctions and bellicose rhetoric directed against the North, framed by the December 22 UN Security Council sanctions and a barrage of aggressive tweets from President Trump. He said the US was open to talks with North Korea under the right circumstances.

Despite the loss of nearly all trade, the impoverished North has pressed ahead with weapons development that Kim's regime sees as necessary for its survival in the face of US pressure.

"China is working with us", he said.

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"We will be discussing maritime interdiction", Hook said, raising the idea of an naval embargo to help enforce the already draconian United Nations sanctions on Kim's regime.

A White House statement said the two leaders discussed Macron's recent visit to China and committed to continue to apply pressure on North Korea.

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