Top US general to meet with South Korean president about crisis

Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting South Korea, Japan and China after a week in which Trump declared the USA military "locked and loaded" and said he was ready to unleash "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to threaten the United States. North Korea's military chiefs would then await leader Kim's instructions, state media have said.

According to the Blue House, General Dunford emphasized that the mission of US forces is to support Washington's efforts to diplomatically and economically pressure Pyongyang to denuclearize and that the "military option" is just in case those efforts fail.

Dunford said last month that it was "unimaginable" to allow North Korea to develop the capability to strike a U.S. city with a nuclear weapon.

The paper, however, cautioned that if the retaliation leads to an attempt to overthrow the North Korean regime and "change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula", Beijing will intervene, without elaborating how.

The North in turn threatened to test-fire its missiles towards the US Pacific island of Guam.

Nearly all - 90 per cent - of North Korea's exports are to China, with coal accounting for 50 per cent of that trade. The US and its allies warned Kim against such a move, and Japan deployed four Patriot missile interceptors into the western part of the country. "Our job is to make sure our leadership has an option available to them".

Meanwhile, China has signalled it will halt iron, iron ore and seafood imports from North Korea starting on Tuesday, following the United Nations resolution on sanctions. The first is to defend against an attack and the second is to ensure the alliance has a decisive response in the event of an attack. "We are seeking peaceful resolution to the crisis right now". (., ) His remarks come amid tensions escalated in recent days by belligerent rhetoric exchanged by Pyongyang and Washington.

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The North accused the United States of mobilizing a huge number of weapons and troops for annual military drills with South Korea that begin later this month.

Referring to Kim Jong Un, Trump said: "If he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that's an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast".

Washington is insistent on maximizing economic sanctions and keeping up pressure on the North to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

He said the South Korea-U.S. alliance was an alliance to maintain peace, adding that peace would not be brought to the peninsula by exercising military might. Combined Forces Command and the head of Korea's national security council, will also attend, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Though the U.S. 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. Pyongyang has claimed that the exercise is a rehearsal for an invasion. They want to make sure they can do all they can to be prepared.

On Sunday, US National Security Adviser HR McMaster said he did not think the sides were closer to war than a week ago, while CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he saw no intelligence to suggest the sides were on the cusp of a nuclear war.

  • Sonia Alvarado