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Between old foe and aggressive ally, no honeymoon for South Korea's Moon

15 August, 2017, 00:07 | Author: Priscilla Morrison

Gen Joseph Dunford said the U.S. priority was diplomacy but added that military options were being prepared should sanctions against the North fail.

Dunford made the comments to his counterparts in South Korea as part of a trip to South Korea, Japan and China.

"Based on projective capacity that North Korea possesses today, we can protect the peninsula, the Koreans here in the peninsula, the Americans here in the peninsula, we can protect Guam, we can protect Hawaii and we can protect the continent of the United States", he said. That rhetoric included a threat from North Korea to strike near the USA territory of Guam using four of its missiles, and President Trump shooting back that the US military is quote "lock and loaded" for North Korea, in case it acts unwisely.

Following Trump's vow to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea, Kim's regime threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan into waters near Guam, home to U.S. military bases in the region.

Mr Moon, who has been criticised domestically for remaining largely silent during the war of words between United States president Donald Trump and North Korea, denounced Pyongyang for "disturbing the peace" on the Korean peninsula and urged North Korea's president Kim Jong-un to engage in talks.

Some analysts expect further escalation in the coming days as both North and South Korea celebrate the August 15 anniversary of the end of Japan's occupation of the Korean peninsula, and the latter conducts joint military exercises with the U.S. from August 21.

Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is also meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

South Korea's defense minister and the military chief are set to meet with the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on Monday amid escalating tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, officials said. From September 5th, it will no longer buy North Korean coal, iron and iron ore, lead and fish, among other items. "We are closely monitoring every move by the United States".




North Korea's state-run media today condemned the planned military drills and said the U.S. is "letting out unsafe war rhetoric".

With few options at his command, Moon has been encouraging Washington to talk directly to Pyongyang to resolve differences, according to senior officials and advisers to the president. North Korea's military chiefs would then await leader Kim's instructions, state media have said.

"I think what is important is not to confuse military action with policy", Gen Dunford said.

Referring to Kim Jong Un, Trump said: "If he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that's an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast".

Brooks said the alliance is strong and is prepared to face the threat from North Korea.

He added that any changes to the US posture in the region will be made in consultation with the Japanese government - who are also under threat from North Korea.

The upcoming military exercises by the US and South Korea occur every year.

Though the U.S. military is "always locked and loaded", the administration is now taking "all possible actions short of military action" to tackle the North Koran threats, including "a very determined diplomatic effort", the general said.

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