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Afghan Lawmakers Call for Stoning of Fellow Parliamentarian

Lawmakers in Afghanistan have called for stoning to death of a fellow parliament member for stating the country’s long border with Pakistan is an international boundary.

Afghan commentators and newspaper editorials have also slammed the parliament member for speaking against “the national interest,” with some demanding Abdul Latif Pedram’s ouster from Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, for committing treason.

“You chant ‘God is Great’ through this microphone and I will stone him to death right here on the floor of this representative house,” a member urged the house speaker while taking part in an evidently furious debate Monday.

The parliamentary proceedings were being televised live, as usual.

“For God’s sake Mr. Speaker, if you don’t take this action you will solely be held responsible,” the angry lawmaker went on to warn Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi.

The punishment to the “spy,” he said, will send a strong message to the people in Pakistan that any “agent” on Afghan soil will meet the same fate for even discussing the status of the Durand Line, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pedram, head of his Afghanistan National Congress party, told a news conference in Kabul during the weekend that his party recognizes the Durand Line as the official border with Pakistan. He went on to say that most of the problems plaguing bilateral relations stem from Afghanistan’s failure to publicly acknowledge it.

Pedram is an ethnic Tajik, who hails from the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan, and was a candidate in the October 2004 presidential election. He was present in the house during Monday’s proceedings.

Taking part in the debate, another lawmaker condemned Pedram as ignorant of Afghan “sensitivities.”

“I swear to God that, from today onward, if any will dare indulge in such illegal statements and debates about the Durand Line, the nation would break his jaw,” he said.

Controversial Durand Line

Speaker Ibrahimi, while responding to the demands, reiterated the Durand Line is a national issue and “no individual, certain tribe or a specific group” can decide on its status. He emphasized that the authority to make any decision with regard to the frontier rests only with Afghanistan’s traditional assembly of elders, called the Loya Jirga.

Afghan leaders, mainly ethnic Pashtuns, have from the outset disputed parts of the nearly 2,600-kilometer, largely porous border demarcated in 1893 during the British rule of the Indian subcontinent and named after the then-Foreign Secretary Mortimer Durand.

Pakistani officials dismiss Afghan objections and maintain their country inherited the international border after gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Islamabad has lately stepped up efforts to fence off the Durand Line and has built new security outposts as well as forts along the border in addition to fortifying five regular crossings, despite protests from Kabul.

Officials in Pakistan defend the border management measures, saying they will help deter terrorist infiltrations in both direction.

Mutual allegations of sponsoring terrorist attacks against each other are at the center of recent tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Pedram should be questioned inside the parliament as well as in the court of public opinion, because this is a vital matter for the Afghan territory and nation,” wrote the Afghanistan Times newspaper in an editorial. “Statements in favor of recognition to the Durand Line as a permanent border with Pakistan would be an insult to our martyrs. Territorial history and integrity cannot be compromised at any cost,” it added.

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Pakistan on Verge of Disastrous Water Shortage

Two weeks ago a minor water crisis hit Pakistan. The flow in rivers fell below agricultural requirements. Then temperatures rose, glaciers melted, and river flows increased threefold, evading a disaster.

“Had the temperatures not increased for another 10-15 days, we wouldn’t have been able to give the required amount of water to the provinces,” said Mohammad Khalid Rana, the Indus Water Regulatory Authority spokesman.


That would have meant a delay in planting crops like cotton, sugarcane, and rice.


The fluctuation in river flows, blamed mostly on climate change, was not unprecedented. Nor was it unexpected. Yet its solution does not appear to be in the works, for the near future.


“If we want to ensure our food security and meet our climate change challenges, we’ll have to increase our water storage on a war footing,” warns Rana.


Even though Rana works for a government agency, his warnings appear to be making little difference in policy, according to independent water experts.


Pakistan started off as a water affluent country in 1947, with per capita availability of renewable water at more than 5,000 cubic meters, to the verge of becoming water stressed, with per capita availability down to almost 1,000 cubic meters. Mainly due to an explosive growth in population that now stands at an estimated 190 million people.


“Nobody in this country is doing anything to slow down the rate of population growth,” complained Shafqat Kakakhel, a former ambassador who has worked extensively on water related issues. “All other countries that were notorious for high population growth rates, Bangladesh, Subsaharan Africa, have done something … we are doing absolutely nothing.”


More than 90 percent of Pakistan’s water resources are used in agriculture, which is much higher than the global average of 70 percent. The high consumption of water is blamed on outdated irrigation systems, loss of water during transmission, and the choice of crops.

Wrong choices

Pakistan mainly grows wheat, rice and sugar cane, which are all water intensive and some say the wrong choice for its agrarian economy.


“There is absolutely no justification in Pakistan for sugarcane,” according to Kakakhel. “Sugarcane is like growing trees, like growing a forest, in the amount of water it consumes. And the rate of recovery, the amount of sugar you get from a litre of sugarcane juice is the lowest in the world.”


Another water and energy expert Arshad Abbasi insisted Pakistan’s problem is less of resources and more of management of resources.


“More than 86 countries of the world are surviving on less water than us,” he said. They are doing so through efficient water management as well as modernizing their agriculture, he added.


“Over the next 10 years, the way the crops are becoming hybrid internationally, our farmers will not be able to compete,” he cautioned.


Giving an example of Indian Punjab, with topography similar to Pakistani Punjab, Abbasi explains Indian agricultural yield was two to three times higher than Pakistan.

Outdated infrastructure


Pakistani farmers’ irrigation systems also require an unnecessarily high amount of water.


Fields are flooded with water from canals or tube wells. Other water scarce countries have moved to drip irrigation systems or sprinkler systems that use much less water. In addition, the waterways built to transport water from rivers are not lined, leading to transmission losses of up to 40 percent.


The problem also exists in modern cities, like Islamabad that was designed and built only half a century ago. Abbasi said mismanagement of water during transmission leads to 60 percent leakage in the capital.


Adding to the difficulties is the fact the country has not increased its water storage capacity for several decades.


“You get 145 million acre feet of water throughout the year in your rivers, 70-80 percent of that water comes during only 70 days of Monsoon, July, August and 10 days of September,” according to Rana of IRSA. “If you don’t have the capacity to carry over that water for the rest of the 295 days, you will always be in trouble.”


Farmers make up for the shortage by extracting water from the ground. In his analysis published in Development Advocate Pakistan, a UNDP funded publication, Shahid Ahmad, a water resources development and management expert, wrote Pakistan has around one million tube wells and any use beyond 10 percent of groundwater will result in rapid lowering of the water table.”


In the past 40 years, he added, groundwater contribution to agriculture has doubled and now provides 47 percent of water available to farms.


But the government complains of a lack of funds.

One major storage project, the Diamer-Bhasha Dam on River Indus, has been approved for almost a decade. But work on the almost $14 billion project was stalled because Pakistan failed to acquire funds from international financial agencies.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved a plan last December to raise domestic funding for the dam and ordered physical work to be started before the end of 2017. Construction of such projects usually takes 8-10 years. The dam was originally supposed to come online in 2019.




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Dalai Lama, Border Guard Who Escorted Him Into India Have Emotional Reunion

Nearly six decades after he fled his homeland, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama had an emotional reunion on Sunday with the border guard who escorted him into India when he was 23 years old.   

The Buddhist monk, now 81, met the border guard, Naren Chandra Das, who is 79, in Guwahati, the capital of the northeastern Indian Assam state, at a ceremony organized by the state government.

The Dalai Lama had trekked for two weeks across the Himalayas in 1959 disguised as a soldier and seeking asylum in India, following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet.  

Embracing Das, who escorted him for part of his journey in India, the Tibetan spiritual leader said he was very happy to meet with him.  “Looking at your face, I now realize I must be very old too,” he told him in jest.  

It was the first exchange of words between the two. Das recalled he and several other guards who escorted the Dalai Lama had been given orders not to speak to him when he crossed into India.  They had never met since.  

Das later told reporters he was overwhelmed by the warmth with which the Dalai Lama met him.

‘I experienced freedom’

The Tibetan spiritual leader, who arrived in Guwahati en route to the famous Buddhist Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, said he had an emotional attachment to the region that revived his memories of escape from Tibet.  

The Dalai Lama recalled how when they sent some men to the Indian border, they readily agreed to give them entry.  “The days prior to my arrival in India were filled with tension and the only concern was safety, but I experienced freedom when I was received warmheartedly by the people and officials and a new chapter began in my life,” the Press Trust of India quoted him as saying.

The visit has raised China’s ire.  Beijing, which calls the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist, has strongly protested the Indian government’s plans to host him in the sensitive border state of Arunachal Pradesh, that is controlled by New Delhi, but is also claimed by Beijing.

The Indian government has responded by saying it is a religious visit and has no political meaning. The Dalai Lama has called China’s opposition “normal.”

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Слідчий комітет Росії порушив справу за фактом вибуху в метро в Санкт-Петербурзі

Слідчий комітет Росії порушив кримінальну справу за фактом вибухів у метрополітені Санкт-Петербурга.

Як повідомляє прес-служба відомства, у Санкт-Петербург направлена група слідчих і криміналістів центрального апарату Слідчого комітету.

«За попередніми даними, сьогодні близько 14:40 у вагоні поїзда на перегоні станцій метро «Технологічний інститут» та «Сінна площа» в Санкт-Петербурзі стався вибух невстановленого вибухового пристрою. Є загиблі і поранені», – йдеться в повідомленні.

На даний час на місці події проводяться первісні слідчі дії, додають у відомстві. 

У Росії в метрополітені Санкт-Петербурга стався вибух. Як повідомив речник губернатора міста Андрій Кібітов, в результаті вибуху в петербурзькому метрополітені, за останніми даними, постраждали близько 50 людей.

Російські ЗМІ повідомляють про щонайменше 10 загиблих, зокрема, такі дані наводять агенції «ТАСС» і «Інтерфакс».

Президент Росії Володимир Путін заявив, що правоохоронні органи з’ясовують причини вибуху, розглядаються всі варіанти – і побутові, і кримінальні, а також пов’язані з тероризмом.

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Росія: станції метро Петербурга закрили після вибуху, прокуратура проводить перевірку

Всі станції метро російського Санкт-Петербурга закрили після вибуху 3 квітня, повідомляє прес-служба метрополітену міста.

Тим часом у Генеральній прокуратурі Росії повідомили, що прокуратура Санкт-Петербурга організувала перевірку в зв’язку «з вибухом у вагоні на платформі станції метро «Технологічний інститут».

Президент Росії Володимир Путін, який перебуває в Санкт-Петербурзі, заявив, що правоохоронні органи з’ясовують причини вибуху в петербурзькому метро і розглядають всі варіанти – і побутові, і кримінальні, а також пов’язані з тероризмом.

Офіційних даних щодо загиблих і поранених немає. Російські ЗМІ з посиланнями на джерела в правоохоронних структурах повідомляють про щонайменше 10 загиблих і близько 50 поранених.

Раніше російські ЗМІ повідомили, що вибух стався на перегоні між станціями «Сінна площа» і «Технологічний інститут». За повідомленнями, вибухнув невстановлений предмет.


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МЗС перевіряє, чи є українці серед постраждалих внаслідок вибуху в Санкт-Петербурзі

Міністерство закордонних справ України з’ясовує, чи є серед постраждалих внаслідок вибуху в Санкт-Петербурзі українці. 

«Консул у Санкт-Петербурзі вживає оперативних заходів для з’ясування можливої наявності серед постраждалих громадян України», – йдеться у повідомленні консульської служби МЗС у у twitter. 

У відомстві додають, що наразі поліція не повідомляє громадянство загиблих і постраждалих. 

У Росії в метрополітені Санкт-Петербурга стався вибух. За деякими даними, вибухів було два – у різних місцях. Як повідомив речник губернатора міста Андрій Кібітов, в результаті вибуху в петербурзькому метрополітені, за останніми даними, постраждали близько 50 людей.

Російські ЗМІ повідомляють про щонайменше 10 загиблих, зокрема, такі дані наводять агенції «ТАСС» і «Інтерфакс». 

Президент Росії Володимир Путін заявив, що правоохоронні органи з’ясовують причини вибуху, розглядаються всі варіанти – і побутові, і кримінальні, а також пов’язані з тероризмом.

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Путін: силовики з’ясовують причини вибуху в Санкт-Петербурзі, розглядаються різні версії

Президент Росії Володимир Путін заявив, що правоохоронні органи з’ясовують причини вибуху в петербурзькому метро.

За його словами, розглядаються всі варіанти – і побутові, і кримінальні, а також пов’язані з тероризмом. 

Путін також висловив підтримки родинам і близьким постраждалих в результаті вибуху. 

У Росії в метрополітені Санкт-Петербурга стався вибух. За деякими даними, вибухів було два – у різних місцях. Російські ЗМІ повідомляють про щонайменше 10 загиблих, зокрема, такі дані наводять агенції «ТАСС» і «Інтерфакс». За повідомленнями, ще десятки людей постраждали.

На відео, опублікованому в ЗМІ, видно вирвані вибухом двері вагона і людей у паніці. Російські силовики обставини інциденту наразі не коментують.

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Російські ЗМІ повідомляють про щонайменше 10 загиблих від вибуху в Петербурзі

Російські ЗМІ з посиланням на джерела повідомляють про щонайменше 10 загиблих внаслідок вибуху в метро Санкт-Петербурга. Зокрема, такі дані наводять агенції «ТАСС» і «Інтерфакс».

За повідомленнями, ще десятки людей постраждали.

За деякими даними, вибухів було два – у різних місцях.

На відео, опублікованому в ЗМІ, видно вирвані вибухом двері вагона і людей у паніці.

На відеотрансляції з місця події видно автомобілі «швидкої допомоги», пожежні автомобілі і натовп людей, що зібралися біля входу на станцію метро «Сінна площа». Ця станція, а також ще декілька інших, за даними ЗМІ, закриті.

Офіційної інформації наразі немає, російські силові відомства не коментують ситуацію.

Речник російського президента Дмитро Пеєсков заявляє, що президента Росії Володимира Путіна вже поінформували про вибух у вагоні поїзда метро в Санкт-Петербурзі.

Пєсков повідомив, що Путін сьогодні працює в Стрельні – адміністративний район поблизу Санкт-Петербурга.

Сьогодні Путін взяв участь в роботі IV медіафоруму регіональних і місцевих засобів масової інформації, який проходив в Санкт-Петербурзі.


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11 Indian Sailors on Small Boat Hijacked off Somali Coast

Pirates have seized a small boat and kidnapped its 11 Indian crew members off the coast of Somalia, an investigator said Monday, the latest vessel targeted by the region’s resurgent hijackers.

The attack on the small ship happened Saturday as the vessel passed through the narrow channel between Yemen’s Socotra island and the Somali coast, said Graeme Gibbon Brooks, the CEO of the maritime firm Dryad Maritime. The pirates are taking the vessel to the Eyl area of northern Somalia, he said.


The small dhow, a traditional wooden ship common in regional waters, initially was heading from Dubai to Bosaso, Somalia, he said.


Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said sailors there are “aware of the reports and we are monitoring the situation.” The 5th Fleet oversees regional anti-piracy efforts.


Piracy off Somalia’s coast was once a serious threat to the global shipping industry. It has lessened in recent years after an international effort to patrol near the country, whose weak central government has been trying to assert itself after a quarter-century of conflict. Since then, concerns about piracy off Africa’s coast have largely shifted to the West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean.


But frustrations have been rising among Somali fishermen, including former pirates, at what they say are foreign fishermen illegally fishing in local waters.


In March, Somali pirates hijacked the Comoros-flagged oil tanker Aris 13, marking the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel since 2012. They later released the vessel and its Sri Lankan crew without conditions, Somali officials said at the time.


Pirates in late March also seized a fishing trawler.

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Japan Envoy Recalled Over Statue Flap to Return to S. Korea

Japan said Monday that it is sending back its ambassador to South Korea despite an ongoing impasse over a “comfort woman” statue, stressing that it is not meant to be a compromise.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine will fly back to Seoul on Tuesday, along with the consul-general in the South Korean city of Busan.


Kishida said Japan made the decision because of the need to study and develop ties with a new government succeeding ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye amid North Korea’s missile threat. He said Japan regrets that South Korea has not complied with what was supposed to be a final agreement to resolve their differences over the comfort woman issue in late 2015, and that the ambassador will be working to make sure the new administration respects the deal.


Before and during World War II, Japan forced many Korean and other women in Asia to work in brothels for the Japanese military in what was known as the “comfort woman” system.


“The agreement is a promise that the two countries made to international society. We must sincerely implement it,” Kishida said.


Japanese officials said sending the envoys does not mean Japan is caving in to South Korea’s refusal to remove the statue.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan’s other retaliatory actions, such as the suspension of some negotiations with South Korea, including a proposed currency swap arrangement for times of financial crisis, will stay in place. He said sending back the envoys also reflected Japan’s concerns over the safety of Japanese nationals in South Korea “when the political situation is extremely uncertain.”


South Korea will hold an election on May 9 to elect a new president to replace Park, who was impeached and later arrested amid a massive corruption scandal.


Japan recalled the ambassador and the consul-general in January in response to the placing of the statue outside of Japan’s consulate in Busan.


Activists in South Korea oppose the agreement. A comfort woman statue put up outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in 2011 remains in place, and activists installed a similar statue by the same sculptor in Busan in December.


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Despite Crackdown, Survey Indicates Corruption Still a Challenge in Asia

Major regional surveys say corruption in Asia remains a major development challenge for governments, although China’s crackdown on corruption under President Xi Jinping is seen as having an impact on public perceptions.

The surveys by the Berlin-based Transparency International and analysts with the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk (PERC) come as several countries – including China – are taking public steps to address corruption in government and business.

The PERC report, released March 30, says there are positive signs that while corruption remains a major issue, “perceptions about corruption in Asia on average have improved compared with one year ago.”

Under the PERC survey, Singapore, Australia and Japan are ranked with low levels of perceived corruption, with a positive outcome also for Sri Lanka, while at the bottom of the scale is Cambodia, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam.


China’s ranking is seen to have improved. “President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown clearly seems to have made a positive impression,” the Hong Kong analysts said.

“The magnitude of the problem is still large, which means there is a lot of work still to do, but President Xi’s policies have created the impression first, that the government is serious about fighting graft at all levels, and second it is making real headway,” they added.

But Transparency International’s assessment is less positive. “People in China were most likely to think the level of corruption had increased recently – nearly three quarters of people said corruption had risen,” the report said.

The TI report was positive in its assessments of official efforts by the governments of India, Indonesia and Thailand in taking steps to address corruption, even though India was still marked as having the highest bribery rate of all the countries surveyed.

The PERC analysis said while “few in India think there has been any actual improvement in that country’s systemic corruption, but they give Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi credit for using creative ways to fight the problem like his surprise ban on large bank notes.”

Lawyers with the legal firm Baker McKenzie, Mini VandePol and Vivian W. Wu, in a commentary on the TI survey, said China’s anti-corruption landscape was now “more stringent than ever.”

They pointed to several reforms including sentencing guidelines on official and commercial bribery offenses, amendments to China’s criminal law, new rules on “whistle-blowing,” amendments to Anti-Unfair Competition, and steps extending to new donation rules for the health care sector.

The PERC analysis said China’s anti-corruption czar, Wang Qishan, holds the key over the longer term success of the Xi-led policy. But the analysts added concerns that after the men retire, “there was a chance of corruption making a comeback.”

Emerging economies

While emerging economies such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia ranked poorly in corruption perceptions, the countries are still reporting sound rates of economic growth.

Pavida Pananond, associate professor of international business at Thammasat University, said investors are prepared to accept a certain level of corruption “as part of the risk of doing business in emerging economies.”

But she said there is a toll on business confidence that occurs when corruption is “unpredictable and no clear practice on how far it would go.”

“The level where it goes and no certain kind of practice on what needs to be paid that would become a strong deterrence for business that wants to be clean and clear,” Pavida told VOA.


In the Transparency International and PERC surveys, people in Thailand rated positively the military government’s program aimed at fighting corruption. The TI survey showed only 14 percent of people considered corruption had increased and 72 percent rated the government’s policy favorably.

“Bribes paid by firms to officials and regulators to secure contracts have dropped to their lowest level for five years, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce,” the PERC commentary said.

Bandid Nijathawaorn, a former deputy central bank governor and currently president of the Thai Institute of Directors, said the Thai corporate sector has sought to confront the corruption problem.

Bandid said a coalition of 820 corporations against corruption, launched in 2010, has pressed the government to move on law reform covering procurement and reducing bureaucratic “red tape.”

But while there has been progress, Bandid said the problem in Thailand remains endemic.

“The problem is quite deep-rooted and systemic in a sense. So you cannot depend on one single organization to help improve it. To improve the situation [it] must come from all the key participants in the economy, including the government sector, the private sector and also the civil society to address the problem,” he told VOA.

High profile cases

Last October, Thailand launched a specialized corruption court aiming to quickly resolve corruption cases.

In a high profile case, the court sentenced former Tourism Authority (TAT) governor Juthamas Siriwan to 50 years in jail for accepting $1.8 million in bribes from two Americans seeking the rights to host an international film festival in Thailand.

Other cases include $36 million in illegal payments by aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce, said to have been made to executives of national carrier Thai Airways over several years, and to the state-controlled energy corporation PTT plc.

Thammasat University’s Pavida said such cases will prove to be a test for the government’s policy on corruption.

“When you clean up something, you need to put in a strong check and balance mechanism that can make sure that things would be implemented no matter who is in power,” she said.

Thailand’s anti-graft agency was reported Monday as saying it expected to conclude the investigation into the high-profile Rolls-Royce bribery scandal by year’s end.

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Trump’s North Korea Comments Raise Speculation About Chinese President’s Visit

U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough but vague talk on North Korea, in advance of this week’s visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, is fueling a wide range of speculation that he may pursue a major policy shift that could either lead to a grand bargain with Beijing or start a preemptive war.

In an interview with London’s Financial Times on Sunday, Trump said that if China is not going to solve the problem of North Korea, “we will.” He also noted China’s “great influence over North Korea” and warned that if Beijing did not help resolve the issue of Pyongyang’s rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, that “it won’t be good for anyone.”

Halting North Korea’s nuclear program and preventing the Kim Jong Un government from developing a nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could strike the U.S. mainland, is expected to be a key issue Trump and Xi will discuss when the two leaders meet at the American president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida Thursday.

Tillerson and Mattis

The recent visits to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have helped reassure leaders in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul that Washington will continue to prioritize increasing economic sanctions to pressure Pyongyang to change its behavior and concede to give up its nuclear ambitions for economic aid and security guarantees.

Also, a recent U.S. national security review of North Korea policy reportedly emphasized sanctions and increasing pressure on Beijing by targeting more Chinese banks and firms that do business with North Korea.

Few expect Trump and Xi to reach a significant breakthrough on North Korea during their initial meeting.  Beijing has long been unwilling to do anything that may destabilize the North and send millions of refugees across the border.

And there will be other issues on the table as well, like reducing China’s aggressive military moves in the South China over disputed territorial claims, and trying to narrow the U.S. trade deficit with China, which was a major campaign issue for Trump.

Grand bargain

But given the Trump administration’s emphasis that all options are on the table to deal with the North Korean threat, there is speculation he may seek a multi-layered deal with Xi that would include trade and regional security issues.

“The question is whether Washington is willing to, and able to, make concessions giving Beijing enough incentives so that the Chinese government will make a fundamental shift in its dealings with the leadership in Pyongyang,” said Bong Young-shik with the Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Bong said Washington would likely need to offer some degree of support for Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, for Taiwan and to back off from criticizing China’s human rights record, to motivate China to take stronger actions against North Korea.

In the Financial Time interview Trump, the former real estate developer who wrote the book The Art of The Deal said, “Trade is the incentive,” the U.S. will use in negotiations with China. 

When asked about a “grand bargain” in which China would pressure Pyongyang in return for a U.S. promise to later remove troops from the Korean peninsula, the newspaper quoted Trump as saying: “Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”

Military option

The president’s uncompromising tone and comments by officials in his administration have also added to speculation that Trump may support the use of force to resolve the North Korean threat.

When Tillerson was in Seoul recently he said if North Korea elevates “the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action,that option is on the table.”

James Nolt, an international political economy analyst with the World Policy Institute, is concerned hawks in the Trump administration may likely consider launching preemptive military strikes against a possible North Korean ICBM launch to be an acceptable risk to maintain U.S. security.

“I think that is a very plausible action because it doesn’t look necessarily warlike. It looks like a relatively reasonable response to a threat, and yet undoubtedly from North Korea it’s going to look like it’s very provocative,” said Nolt.

Many in South Korea and Japan argue that preemptive military action against North Korea would fail to end the nuclear threat, as many of the country’s nuclear and missile facilities are hidden in fortified underground bunkers. And worse, analysts say, a U.S. attack could draw China and the entire region into a full-scale nuclear war that would kill millions.

Youmi Kim contributed to this report