Trump urges NK to 'make a deal' to end standoff

AP
In a more conciliatory appeal than before, US President Donald Trump yesterday urged North Korea to "make a deal" to end the nuclear standoff.
AP

US President Donald Trump warned North Korea yesterday that he was prepared to use the full range of US military power to stop any attack, but in a more conciliatory appeal than before he urged Pyongyang to “make a deal” to end the nuclear standoff.

Speaking during a visit to Seoul, Trump said that while “we hope to God” not to have to resort to the use of full US military might, he was ready to do whatever was necessary to prevent North Korea from threatening millions of lives.

“We cannot allow North Korea to threaten all that we have built,” Trump said after talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

But at times taking a more measured, less confrontational tone, Trump also urged North Korea to “do the right thing” and added that: “I do see some movement,” though he declined to elaborate.

“It really makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and make a deal,” Trump told reporters.

Trump’s renewed threat was a far cry from the more strident approach he has pursued in recent months, including his previous dismissal of any diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang as a waste of time.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made clear, however, that he has little interest in negotiations, at least until he has developed a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

Landing earlier at Osan Air Base outside Seoul, the US president and first lady Melania Trump stepped down from Air Force One onto a red carpet at the start of a 24-hour visit.

He then flew by helicopter to Camp Humphreys, the largest US military base in the country, and met US and South Korean troops, along with Moon.

The White House billed Trump’s trip as intended to demonstrate US resolve over a hardline approach to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. But many in the region had expressed fear that any further bellicose rhetoric toward North Korea could increase the potential for a devastating military conflict.

Trump praised Moon for “great cooperation” despite differences in the past over how to confront North Korea and over a trade pact between the United States and South Korea.

In formal talks after an elaborate welcoming ceremony outside the presidential Blue House in Seoul, Moon told Trump he hoped his visit would relieve some of South Koreans’ anxiety over North Korea.

Trump said Pyongyang must understand the “unparalleled strength” Washington had at its disposal.

He cited three US aircraft carrier strike groups converging on the Western Pacific for exercises as well as a nuclear submarine he said was in position.

Trump rattled some US allies with his vow to “totally destroy” North Korea and by deriding Kim as a “Rocket Man on a suicide mission.”

Kim responded by calling Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard.”

Trump’s senior aides have since urged him to avoid “personalizing” the conflict any further, US officials say.

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