BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 25: Former President of the United States of America Barack Obama after a discussion about democracy at Church Congress on May 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. Up to 200,000 faithful are expected to attend the five-day congress in Berlin and Wittenberg that this year is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (Photo by Steffi Loos/Getty Images)
Obama refers to 'absence of US leadership'
00:49 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Trump said last month he was open to renegotiating aspects of the agreement

"The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed," Trump said

CNN  — 

Former President Barack Obama championed global leaders’ commitment to the Paris Agreement Monday despite the US’ withdrawal from the accord.

“The Paris agreement, even with the temporary absence of US leadership, will still be a critical factor in helping our children solve the enormous challenge in civilization,” Obama said at a Seoul conference organized by South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo media group.

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement in June was criticized by some as shifting leadership of global efforts to limit climate change to Asia. Trump said last month he was open to renegotiating aspects of the agreement – which was inked under his Democratic predecessor and which all nations except two have signed onto.

In his speech, Obama highlighted the role China plays in allowing North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s regime to continue.

“China is the one country North Korea does depend on to some extent and the elites depend on to access foreign currency, basic supplies that are important to the regime,” the former president said.

Obama also noted that Kim governs a bit differently than his father who preceded him, but is still a threat due to his hunger for power.

“Pyongyang doesn’t always listen to China,” the former president said. “Unlike the father, the son often times has engaged in fairly significant diplomatic insults of Beijing in a way we haven’t seen before and in a way that surprised China.”

“You have a young man who is only interested in maintaining power and is willing to do anything to sustain that,” Obama added.

Trump spoke alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in Friday in the US, expressing his frustration with the North Korean government.

“The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed,” he said in a statement from the Rose Garden. “And, frankly, that patience is over.”

After the speech in Seoul Monday, Obama and Moon met and discussed the future relationship between the US and Asia.

The US and China have been at odds recently over a $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province, and after the US sanctioned China’s Dandong bank for alleged ties to North Korea. The US also labeled China as one of the world’s worst countries for human trafficking and challenged Beijing in the South China Sea, by sailing close to a disputed island chain that China claims.