President Donald Trump has warned the United States will no longer tolerate North Korea’s provocative actions, but says the use of military force against Pyongyang is not his “first choice”.
In a flurry of phone calls with world leaders days after North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to “take further action with the goal of achieving the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”, the White House said.
“President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump told reporters, though he offered no specifics.
“I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 per cent… We had a very, very frank and very strong phone call,” he added on Wednesday.
Asked whether he was considering a military response to North Korea, Trump said: “Certainly, that’s not our first choice, but we will see what happens.”
Xi, who has been under pressure from Trump to do more to help curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, told the US president during their 45-minute call that the North Korean issue must be resolved through “dialogue and consultation”.
The focus on negotiations by China, North Korea’s main trading partner, contrasted with Trump’s assertions over the past few days that now was not the time for talks with North Korea while pressing instead for increased international pressure on Pyongyang.
The US and South Korea have asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test on Sunday that Pyongyang said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday that resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis was impossible with sanctions and pressure alone.
Putin met South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of an economic summit in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok amid mounting international concern that their neighbour plans more weapons tests, including possibly a long-range missile launch before a weekend anniversary.
Putin echoed other world leaders in denouncing North Korea’s latest nuclear bomb test on Sunday, but added no headway could be made without political and diplomatic tools.
Moon has come under increasing pressure to take a harder line.
He has asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions after North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
The US wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban the country’s exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean labourers abroad and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Diplomats say the UN Security Council could also consider barring its airline.
Meanwhile South Korea’s defence ministry said the four remaining batteries of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system would be deployed on a golf course in the south of the country on Thursday. Two THAAD batteries have already been installed.