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'US can no longer tolerate trade abuses'

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Trump insists on fair and equal bilateral deals

DANANG, VIETNAM: United States President Donald Trump sent out a strong message on trade at a meeting of Asia-Pacific countries in Vietnam yesterday, saying the US can no longer tolerate chronic trade abuses and will insist on fair and equal policies.

Mr Trump said the US is ready to make a bilateral deal with any country in the Indo-Pacific region, but only on the basis of "mutual respect and mutual benefit".

"When the US enters into a trading relationship with other countries or other people, we will from now on expect that our partners will faithfully follow the rules.

"We expect that markets will be open to an equal degree on both sides and that private investment, not government planners, will direct investment," he said in a speech ahead of a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders.

Mr Trump arrived in Vietnam from China on the fourth leg of a 12-day trip to Asia.

Redressing the balance of trade between Asia and the US is at the centre of Mr Trump's "America First" policy he says will protect US workers, Reuters reported.

Mr Trump broke early with the "Pivot to Asia" of the Obama administration, worrying some traditional allies that he will allow China to extend its increasing dominance.

Danang, where the summit is being held, itself sits on the shore of the South China Sea, one of the region's biggest security headaches and where China's neighbours challenge its sweeping claim to most of the waterway as having no basis in law.

Mr Trump said the region's future depended on upholding "freedom of navigation and overflight, including open shipping lanes".

He also said the Asia-Pacific region is being held hostage by the "twisted fantasies" of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as he called on countries to stand united against Pyongyang, AFP reported.


"The future of this region and its beautiful people must not be held hostage to a dictator's twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail," he said.

The region, he added, must "stand united in declaring that every single step the North Korean regime takes toward more weapons is a step it takes into greater and greater danger".

The US administration thinks China's economic leverage over North Korea is the key to strong-arming Pyongyang into halting its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

But North Korean media reiterated yesterday that Pyongyang will not put its nuclear weapons up for negotiation, calling such suggestions a "foolish daydream" and Mr Trump a "war maniac".

"We do not oppose dialogue but will never put the issue related to the supreme interests of (North Korea) and the security of its people on the bargaining table," said a signed commentary in the government newspaper Minju Joson.

"We are not interested in such dialogue and negotiations in the least."

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