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Trump Says China Meddling in 2018 US Election; Beijing Rejects Charge

Donald Trump's allegation on China of election meddling came as a surprise during a formal meeting around the Security Council's iconic horseshoe that was expected to concentrate on the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Reuters

Updated:September 26, 2018, 10:19 PM IST
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Trump Says China Meddling in 2018 US Election; Beijing Rejects Charge
US President Donald Trump, representing the United States as current President of the United Nations Security Council, bangs the gavel to open the U.N. Security Council meeting at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US. (Image: Reuters)
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United Nations: U.S. President Donald Trump accused China of seeking to meddle in the Nov. 6 U.S. congressional elections on Wednesday, saying Beijing did not want his Republican Party to do well because of his pugnacious stance on trade.

"China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November. Against my administration," Trump told a U.N. Security Council meeting whose ostensible subject was nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Trump did not provide any evidence for his allegation, which he made while chairing the Council meeting.

China rejected the charge.

"We did not and will not interfere in any country's domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China," the Chinese government's top diplomat Wang Yi told the Security Council.

Trump also used the session to defend the U.S. withdrawal in May from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, hint at progress in U.S. efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear program, and to criticize Iran and Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's war, now in its eighth year.

"The Syrian regime's butchery is enabled by Russia and Iran," Trump said.

Trump's focus on China and his allegation of election meddling came as a surprise during a formal meeting around the Security Council's iconic horseshoe that was expected to concentrate on the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

"They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade and we are winning on trade, we are winning at every level. We don't want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election," said Trump, who is attending the U.N.'s annual gathering of world leaders.

Trump himself is not up for re-election until 2020 but November's voting will decide whether his Republican Party can keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Some opinion polls show that the Democratic Party could make a strong showing, notably in the House.

The United States and China are embroiled in a trade war, sparked by Trump's accusations that China has long sought to steal U.S. intellectual property, limit access to its own market and unfairly subsidize state-owned companies.

In the latest salvo, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and retaliatory taxes by Beijing on $60 billion worth of U.S. products kicked in on Monday, unnerving global financial markets.

During his roughly 10-minute speech, Trump made no reference to U.S. allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election that brought him to power. The allegations have dogged his presidency and have given rise to an investigation by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller into potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

In July at a summit in Helsinki, Trump accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's denials. Trump frequently describes investigations into the interference as a political witch hunt.

On the war in Syria, Trump noted Washington had twice launched airstrikes against the Assad government for twice using chemical weapons against civilians.

He also used the session to defend his May 8 decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal under which Tehran limited its nuclear program in return for the easing of U.S., European and international economic sanctions.

The core U.S. sanctions that seek to choke off Iran's oil exports, the life blood of its economy, will resume in early November and Trump promised that "after that the United States will pursue additional sanctions, tougher than ever before, to counter the entire range of Iran's malign behavior."

The United States accuses Iran of supporting destabilizing proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Trump asked the Security Council to work with the United States to "ensure the Iranian regime changes its behavior and never acquires a nuclear bomb."

SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS?

While Iran has made clear that it has little interest in opening talks with the United States following Washington's abrogation of the nuclear deal, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Trump in June about his nuclear program.

Kim reiterated his commitment to denuclearisation to him in a letter and to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said.

"I think we will make a deal, but unfortunately to ensure this progress continues we must enforce existing U.N. Security Council resolutions until denuclerarization occurs," Trump said.

"However, we have detected that some nations are already violating these U.N. sanctions. This includes illegal ship-to-ship transfers which must end immediately," he said.

Trump did not name the countries. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Russia earlier this month of "cheating" on U.N. sanctions on North Korea and said Washington has "evidence of consistent and wide-ranging Russian violations."
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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