Malcolm Turnbull has heaped praise on China’s efforts to pressure North Korea to curb its nuclear missiles program but warns more needs to be done.
North Korea was among the hot button issues the prime minister discussed with US President Donald Trump during bilateral talks in New York on Friday (US time).
Mr Turnbull said it was important to understand that North Korea is not a client state of China in the way East Germany was of the Soviet Union.
However, he noted China had significant economic ties to the reclusive regime.
“China has, the greatest leverage and therefore the greatest responsibility,” Mr Turnbull told Fox News ahead of his return to Australia.
Mr Turnbull seized on the “bitter resentment” North Korea had recently expressed against China.
“I think that is actually a good sign because it shows that China is bringing influence to bear on North Korea,” he said.
“There’s some progress being made but a lot of work needs to be done.”
North Korea late last week issued a rare direct criticism of China saying its “reckless remarks” on the nuclear program are testing its patience and could trigger unspecified “grave” consequences.
“China should no longer try to test the limits of the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s) patience,” a North Korean commentary said.
“China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations.”
China, North Korea’s largest trading partner and main benefactor, suspended imports of North Korean coal in line with UN sanctions earlier this year.
It has also recently been urging it to stop nuclear and missile activities amid US pressure to use its leverage to resolve the nuclear stand-off.
By Lisa Martin