… As US shutdown looms amid immigration feud***
Donald Trump has said that Russia is helping North Korea get supplies in violation of international sanctions and that Pyongyang is getting “closer every day” to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States.
“Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump said during an Oval Office interview with Reuters. “What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.”
With North Korea persisting as the major global challenge facing Trump this year, the president cast doubt during the 53-minute interview on whether talks with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, would be useful. In the past he has not ruled out direct talks with Kim.
“I’d sit down, but I’m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem,” he said, noting that past negotiations with the North Koreans by his predecessors had failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
“I’m not sure that talks will lead to anything meaningful. They’ve talked for 25 years and they’ve taken advantage of our presidents, of our previous presidents,” he said.
He declined to comment when asked whether he had engaged in any communications at all with Kim, with whom he has exchanged insults and threats, heightening tensions in the region.
In the meantime, the US government is two days away from a shutdown as lawmakers and the White House feud over immigration.
Congress faces a Friday deadline to pass a stopgap measure that would fund federal agencies until next month.
Democrats want the bill to include protections for immigrants who entered the US illegally as children.
Hopes of a bipartisan deal were scuttled last week after Mr Trump’s alleged use of a crude term during White House negotiations.
Neither Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House, nor Democrats want to be blamed for a federal shutdown with crucial mid-term elections looming in November.
House Republicans are attempting to entice Democrats to vote for the continuing resolution by including a provision to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (Chip) for six years.
Chip, which provides healthcare for nine million children, is near the top of Democrats’ wish list.
The House of Representatives could vote on the measure as early as Thursday, and if it passes, the bill would go to the Senate.
At least some Democratic votes are needed to pass the budget measure ahead of Friday’s deadline.
However, the Republican proposal could also face opposition among their own hardline rank-and-file in the House.
Republicans hope a provision in the bill to eliminate a tax on expensive health plans could appease conservative lawmakers.
Guardian UK with additional report from BBC