US diplomat blasts China and Russia for ‘holding the hands’ of North Korean leader – Washington Post

The top U.S. diplomat at the United Nations blasted Russia and China on Wednesday for “holding the hands” of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as the Trump administration struggled to respond to Pyongyang’s latest ballistic missile test.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley chided Moscow and Beijing over their opposition to a Security Council resolution condemning North Korea and imposing greater economic sanctions for what she called its “sharp military escalation.”

She also said Pyongyang was “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution” and suggested the United States would continue to consider military action if necessary.

“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces,” Haley said during a Security Council meeting in New York. “We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction.”

Haley’s pointed speech marked the latest effort by the Trump administration to rally allies and rivals around a common agenda to blunt North Korea’s progress, days after Kim’s regime tested an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range that experts said would put it within reach of Alaska.

North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday released this photo is says shows the successful test-fire of an intercontinental ballistic missile. (Korean Central News Agency via KNS/AFP/Getty Images)

But her remarks also illustrated the limits of the White House’s options and lacked specifics about what concrete steps the administration is considering. The missile test marks a new level of advancement in Kim’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon that could strike the continental United States. Analysts said a military confrontation could escalate quickly into a mass-casualty war across the Korean Peninsula and Japan, where the United States has stationed tens of thousands of troops.

The standoff cast a shadow as President Trump prepared for his first meeting with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and his second with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, which opens Friday in Hamburg. Trump also will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the heads of U.S. allies Britain and Germany.

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