Donald Trump praises 'very wise and reasoned' Kim Jong-un decision

The President appears to be walking back recent threats to use the US military to attack North Korea

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 16 August 2017 13:50
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Donald Trump makes a statement on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia at the White House
Donald Trump makes a statement on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia at the White House

Donald Trump says that North Korea has made a “very wise and well reasoned decision”.

In an apparent reference to Kim Jong-un’s suggestion that he could delay a decision to send a nuclear strike towards Guam, the President praised the North Korean leader for his actions. The tweet appears to suggest that the President may be calming down his threats to destroy North Korea using the might of the US military.

“The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!” Mr Trump tweeted, apparently in reference to his threats to launch “fire and fury” at the country. The two leaders had issued a series of threats to each other, with Mr Trump recently tweeting that the US military was “locked and loaded” if North Korea were to “act unwisely”.

Tensions rose last week after Mr Trump threatened that North Korea could be hit with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it is to escalate the nuclear threat. That led some experts to worry that the two leaders’ interest in dramatic and bellicose rhetoric could drive the world to the brink of nuclear war.

What are the ranges of North Korea's missiles?

But since then, US officials have spoken more calmly and the threat of strikes has been walked back a little. Countries including China have warned both countries and their leaders that they should tone down their aggressive rhetoric.

It was apparently those warnings that the led North Korean leader to delay a decision on whether he would fire missiles towards Guam, a territory of the US that North Korea has repeatedly threatened to bomb.

The President didn’t make explicit reference to that delay or the pausing of the escalation, but it appears that his tweet was referencing the statement from North Korea.

In his first public appearance in about two weeks, Mr Kim on Monday inspected the command of the North’s army, examining the plan to fire four missiles aimed at landing near Guam, the official KCNA news agency reported.

“He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared,” KCNA said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a telephone conversation with Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s minister for foreign affairs, said tensions on the Korean peninsula were showing some signs of easing but had not passed.

The parties involved should “make a correct judgement and wise choice by taking a responsible attitude toward history and people”, Mr Wang said, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website.

The apparent de-escalation came as the US along with South Korea and Japan conducted the latest in a series of military exercises around the Korean peninsula. China says those exercises increase tension, and North Korea says they are practice for an eventual invasion, but the US and its allies claim they are necessary.

“These training flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity and resolve we share with our allies to preserve peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” the US Air Force said.

The US aircraft have flown several sorties in East Asia over recent weeks. In addition to air drills with Japanese fighters, the bombers have also exercised with South Korean aircraft.

Additional reporting by agencies

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