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Trump, Kazakh president discuss North Korea nuclear threat

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he and the president of Kazakhstan are united in a shared determination to prevent North Korea from “threatening the world with nuclear devastation.”

Trump and President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed North Korea along with other issues during meetings at the White House.

The U.S. president has pledged to solve the North Korea nuclear issue and has alternated between applying “maximum” diplomatic pressure on the government in Pyongyang and threatening U.S. military action to destroy North Korea’s fast-developing nuclear arsenal.

Trump said Kazakhstan, once part of the Soviet Union, is a “valued partner in our efforts to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.”

“Together we are determined to prevent the North Korean regime from threatening the world with nuclear devastation,” he said, as both presidents addressed journalists between meetings.

Nazarbayev noted that his country once had one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals but voluntarily gave it up after the Soviet Union collapsed. He said his country is in talks with Iran, which was the focus of a global deal that lifted some economic sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program.

Trump has sharply criticized the Iran nuclear deal and threatened last week to pull out soon unless other countries fix what he says are “terrible flaws.”

Nazarbayev suggested that he hopes to serve as an intermediary with North Korea, which has no formal diplomatic relations with the U.S.

“Kazakhstan has a moral right to talk to the nations that are seeking nuclear weapons, and this is the way we’re talking to Iran, and this is the way we will be talking to North Korea,” Narzabayev said.

On a U.S. domestic issue, Nazarbayev congratulated Trump on being in office for a year and for signing a package of tax cuts for corporations and individuals into law in December. Saturday marks one year since Trump took office.

Nazarbayev called the bill signing an “outstanding decision,” noting that he took a similar step at home. “I fully support what you do,” he said.