North Korea’s state-run media yesterday condemned the planned military drills, and said the U.S. is “letting out risky war rhetoric”. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump”.
The U.S. Pacific Command referred all questions on Dunford’s schedule to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In response to Pyongyang’s threat, US President Donald Trump ratcheted up his warnings against the regime, saying a military option is “locked and loaded”.
The meeting on Monday will also be attended by Moon’s security adviser Chung Eui-yong and South Korea’s new JCS chairman Lee Sun-jin, the presidential official said. The U.S. has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.
Trump has continued to take an aggressive tone on North Korea.
“We’re all looking to get out of this situation without a war”, Dunford said.
Some analysts expect further escalation in the coming days as both North and South Korea celebrate the Aug 15 anniversary of the end of Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula, and the latter conducts joint military exercises with the USA from Aug 21.
After his South Korea visit, Dunford is expected to travel to China and Japan as part of his Northeast Asia tour.
State-run China Central Television quoted Xi as telling Trump the “relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula”. On Friday, Trump said that if Kim makes any “overt threat” or strike at a USA territory or ally “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast”.
President Trump last week promised “fire, fury and, frankly, power” should Pyongyang continue to threaten the United States.
North Korea’s Minju Joson newspaper said in an editorial Saturday that the North’s army is “capable of fighting any war the US wants”.
During the talks, Moon and Dunford are expected to seek measures to counter provocations from the North, which threatened last week to fire intermediate-range ballistic missiles toward the waters near the U.S. island Guam.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., welcomed Trump’s pugnacious approach, arguing that numerous president’s critics failed to stop North Korea from developing a nuclear weapon that could hit the United States. “All those smart people who are criticizing his rhetoric and his policy, how well did you do?”