TIME

High stakes: Can Trump and Xi avoid war and strike a North Korea deal?

Long before Trump entered the arena, Xi announced his aspiration to make China great again

PRESIDENTS DONALD Trump and Xi Jinping have many serious issues to discuss at their upcoming Mar-a-Lago summit, but only one ticking time bomb: North Korea. On the current trajectory, North Korea will likely be able to strike the American homeland with a nuclear weapon before the end of Trump’s first term. From his initial tweet on North Korea as President-elect to a lengthy interview in early April, Trump has declared unambiguously that he will never let this happen. As he put it, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”

The message Trump is sending Xi is clear: to prevent North Korea from continuing missile tests and building nuclear warheads that could strike Honolulu or Los Angeles, he will not hesitate to order a unilateral, preemptive military attack on North Korean sites.

For Xi and his team, this is almost unthinkable. A U.S. strike (no

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