Trump again cites ‘military’ option on North Korea

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart have pledged to work to denuclearise 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 destabilising and escalatory behaviour.”
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 towards 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.
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 behaviour” and that both are committed to Korean denuclearisation.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was “very alarmed” at Trump’s tough talk, and said Washington should take the first step towards cooling tensions.
“When a fight has nearly broken out, the first step away from the dangerous threshold should be taken by the side that is stronger and smarter,” Lavrov said. — AFP