US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed on Monday the latest North Korean missile test, urging the international community to deter Pyongyang against its “escalation.”
“President Donald J. Trump spoke today with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to address North Korea’s launch of another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The two leaders agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other countries near and far,” a White House statement said.
“President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, and to convincing other countries to follow suit,” the statement continued.
“President Trump reaffirmed our ironclad commitment to defend Japan and the Republic of Korea from any attack, using the full range of United States capabilities.”
Abe told reporters after his conversation with Trump that repeated efforts by the international community to find a peaceful solution to the North Korean issue had yet to bear fruit in the face of Pyongyang’s unilateral “escalation”.
“International society, including Russia and China, need to take this seriously and increase pressure,” Abe said. He said Japan and the United States would take steps toward concrete action but did not give details.
Abe and Trump did not discuss military action against North Korea, nor what would constitute the crossing of a “red line” by Pyongyang, Deputy Chief Cabinet spokesman Koichi Hagiuda told reporters.
North Korea said on Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an ICBM that proved its ability to strike the US mainland, drawing a sharp warning from Trump and a rebuke from China.
Trump later wrote on Twitter that he was “very disappointed” in China and that Beijing profits from US trade but had done “nothing” for the United States with regards to North Korea, something he would not allow to continue.
Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming, asked at a news conference in Beijing about Trump’s tweets, said there was no link between the North Korea issue and China-US trade.
“We think the North Korea nuclear issue and China-US trade are issues that are in two completely different domains. They aren’t related. They should not be discussed together,” Qian said.
State-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial on Monday Trump’s “wrong tweet” was of no help, and that Trump did not understand the issues.
“Pyongyang is determined to develop its nuclear and missile program and does not care about military threats from the US and South Korea. How could Chinese sanctions change the situation?” said the paper, which is published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is on vacation, planned to have a phone call with Trump soon, a senior official at the Presidential Blue House said.
“If the two heads of state talk, they will likely discuss their respective stances on North Korea, the US-(South Korea) alliance’s standpoint on North Korea and other things including how to impose heavy sanctions,” the official said.
US Ambassador to the United Nations said Washington is “done talking about North Korea”.
Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, said in a statement China must decide if it is willing to back imposing stronger UN sanctions on North Korea over Friday night’s long-range missile test, the North’s second this month.
Any new UN Security Council resolution “that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value”, Haley said, adding that Japan and South Korea also needed to do more.
The US flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea following the country’s latest missile test. That exercise was followed Sunday by a successful test by American forces of a missile interception system the US hopes will be installed on the Korean peninsula.
The B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets as they performed a low-pass over an air base near the South Korean capital of Seoul before returning to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the US Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.
Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, called North Korea “the most urgent threat to regional stability.”
“Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario,” O’Shaughnessy said.
“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing.”