December 04, 2019 11:44
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned North Korea against going too far after the North reminded him of a proposed year-end deadline to resume stalled talks and ease sanctions.
"We have the most powerful military we have ever had and we are by far the most powerful country in the world, and hopefully we do not have to use it," Trump said in a meeting in London ahead a NATO summit. "If we have to, we will do it."
North Korea has been increasing provocations recently by firing missiles and rockets and hinted at more. Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae-song on Monday said the North "has done its utmost with maximum perseverance not to backtrack from the important steps it has taken on its own initiative," according to state media. "What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get."
Although Trump mentioned the possibility of using force, he continued to stress his preference for diplomacy, reiterating his claim that he has a "good relationship" with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and adding that he wants to wait and see if Kim lives up to his denuclearization pledges.
Meanwhile, asked if maintaining American soldiers in South Korea benefits U.S. security interests, Trump said, "It can be debated. I can go either way. I can make arguments both ways."
The remarks, which have alarmed many on both sides of the Pacific, come amid U.S. demands for an exorbitant five-fold increase in South Korea's share of the upkeep of American troops here.
Earlier, the U.S. military dispatched two reconnaissance planes to the Korean peninsula to monitor North Korea. According to flight tracker Aircraft Spots, the U.S. dispatched an E-8C Joint STARS and RC-135U Combat reconnaissance aircraft to Korean skies. On Monday, an RC-135W Rivet Joint patrolled the skies.
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