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Amid calls for restraint, Trump again cites ‘military’ option on NKorea

Aug 13 2017 | 01:26 pm

Washington DC: US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart pledged Saturday to work to denuclearize North Korea, but Trump again invoked the grim possibility of “military measures” if other steps should fail.

Trump’s latest warning came amid a flurry of international calls — from China, the North’s key ally, as well as Russia, Germany, Britain and the United Nations — for the president to show greater rhetorical restraint.

A White House statement said Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking by phone, had discussed “the increasingly dangerous situation associated with North Korea’s destabilizing and escalatory behavior.”

It added that the United States and allies were ready “to apply the full range of diplomatic, economic and military measures” to end any threat.

But Macron, while expressing “concern at the ballistic and nuclear threat” from North Korea, said world leaders needed to get Pyongyang to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” joining the international voices urging caution.

Trump’s call with Macron came hours after Chinese leader Xi Jinping had urged the American president in a separate phone call to avoid inflammatory rhetoric toward Pyongyang.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Xi urged Trump to avoid “words and deeds” that would “exacerbate” the already tense situation and to seek a political settlement.

– ‘Fire and fury’ –

Trump raised alarm around the world — and particularly in Asia — by warning that North Korea would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it were to keep threatening the United States.

That drew a sharp rebuttal from Pyongyang, which threatened to launch missiles toward Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific where some 6,000 American troops are based.

Xi’s plea for caution came hours after Trump stepped up his earlier warning to Pyongyang, saying the isolated regime would “truly regret” taking any hostile action against the United States.

The White House said in a statement that the Trump and Xi “agreed North Korea must stop provocative and escalatory behavior” and that both are committed to Korean denuclearization.

Trump has been engaged all week in verbal sparring with the North over its weapons and missile programs, as US media reported Pyongyang has successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead.

The Republican billionaire has progressively ramped up his tone, declaring Friday that the US military is “locked and loaded.”

A commentary in the North Korean state-run newspaper Minju Joson called the warnings from Trump and “other riffraff of the US… the last-ditch efforts and hysteric fit of those who are in the grip of despair” over the “tragic doom” of the “American empire.”

AFP / John SAEKIGuam

In a call with Guam Governor Eddie Calvo on Friday, Trump said the US military is prepared to “ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam.”

Japanese media said Tokyo was deploying its Patriot missile defense system following Pyongyang’s threat to fire ballistic missiles over the country toward Guam.


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