S Korea's Moon urges calm on N Korea, says war unthinkable

15 August, 2017, 00:21 | Author: Lorena Waters
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Concerns have been soaring over the past few weeks that the trade of increasingly bellicose tit-for-tat threats between Pyongyang and Washington may lead to a miscalculation and subsequent armed clash.

Moon, a left-leaning leader who has previously advocated dialogue with the North, urged it to "stop all provocations and hostile rhetoric immediately, instead of worsening the situation any further".

Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made clear on Monday that Washington is ready "to use the full range of military capabilities to defend our allies and the United States homeland", according to USA military spokesman Capt. Darryn James, as cited by AP.

The top US military officer and the senior American commander in South Korea vowed to press ahead with planned military drills with Seoul this month, despite claims by the North that such exercises are a direct threat to the regime in Pyongyang.

North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the USA territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

"The government has a firm principle: Our top priority is on national interests, and our national interests lie with peace".

In his most recent phone conversation with Trump a week ago, Moon said "a tragic war should never happen on the Korean peninsula", according to his presidential spokesman.

"I am certain the United States will respond to the current situation calmly and responsibly in a stance that is equal to ours", he said.

Moon's remarks appear to be aimed at alleviating fears of a military confrontation at home and overseas, which have been driving a sell-off among global investors and the consequent loss of $67.7 billion in the stock market here, or some 4.4 percent of the total, for just three days from August 8.

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Guam's Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

As well as being completely unconvincing, the very fact that Pompeo felt compelled to downplay the prospect of an imminent nuclear war indicates that the matter is being actively discussed within high-level White House and military circles.

Moon separately called Monday for a peaceful solution to the nuclear standoff, saying that "there must not be another war on the Korean Peninsula", according to his office. "Whatever ups and downs we face, the North Korean nuclear situation must be resolved peacefully", South Korean President Moon Jae-in told a meeting with senior aides and advisers. All are in potential range of North Korean ballistic missile attacks. "This is why we have military capability that undergirds our diplomatic activities". Trump also said the USA was considering tighter sanctions against North Korea.

"The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea". They want to make sure they can do all they can to be prepared. "The region and world need and expect China to do more".

The comments come after Trump over the past week intensified his rhetoric against North Korea.

Though the United States 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.

The United States maintains a large military presence in the Western Pacific that has gained renewed focus following North Korean belligerence and an increasingly assertive China.

"This is why our exercises are so important - we have to have a credible deterrent", the general said.

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