WASHINGTON and Seoul have agreed to inform each other before taking any steps towards containing North Korea, suggesting the US would not pre-emptively strike the North before informing South Korea’s military command.
South Korea’s government announced the news on Friday after the head of its Presidential National Security Office Chung Eui-yong spoke with his American counterpart H.R. McMaster on the phone for 40 minutes.
Chung and McMaster “discussed current security conditions surrounding the Korean Peninsula caused by North Korean provocations and heightened tension, and ways to deal with such threats,” a spokesman for Seoul’s presidential palace said as quoted by the country’s news agency Yonhap.
“The two sides reaffirmed their promise to closely and transparently cooperate on the steps to be taken in each stage to help ensure the security and safety of both South Korea, the US and their people,” the government said.
Continuing a war of words with Kim Jong Un’s communist regime, US President Donald Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric on Thursday saying a strike on the American territory of Guam would unleash “an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before.”
Trump said the North Korean dictator had “disrespected our country greatly. He has said things that are horrific. And with me, he’s not getting away with it.”
“It’s not a dare. It’s a statement,” Trump said as quoted by Reuters.
“He’s not going to go around threatening Guam. And he’s not going to threaten the United States. And he’s not going to threaten Japan. And he’s not going to threaten South Korea.”
“This is great for Kim Jong Un, who desperately craves recognition. Most of all from the President of the United States,” former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN.
“Now the president engaging directly in the same kind of rhetoric is just playing into their hands. I worry this game of rhetoric chicken is going to become self-fulfilling.”
China’s state-run newspaper Global Times argued in an editorial on Thursday the country should remain neutral if North Korea struck first against the US.
“China should also make clear if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the article said.
“If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”
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