U.S. pur­su­ing de­ter­mined diplo­matic ef­fort

U.S. of­fi­cials say con­fronta­tion with North Korea not im­mi­nent

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD - BY RICHARD LARDNER

Se­nior U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said Sun­day that a mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion with North Korea’s is not im­mi­nent, but they cau­tioned that the pos­si­bil­ity of war is greater than it was a decade ago.

CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Pres­i­dent Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, tried to pro­vide as­sur­ances that a con­flict is avoid­able, while also sup­port­ing Trump’s tough talk. They said the United States and its al­lies no longer can af­ford to stand by as North Korea pushes ahead with the de­vel­op­ment of a nu­clear-tipped in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile. “We’re not closer to war than a week ago but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago,’’ McMaster said, adding that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is pre­pared to deal mil­i­tar­ily with North Korea if nec­es­sary.

But he stressed that the U.S. is pur­su­ing “a very de­ter­mined diplo­matic ef­fort’’ led by Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son that’s cou­pled with new fi­nan­cial sanc­tions to dis­suade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from fur­ther provo­ca­tions.

“The U.S. mil­i­tary is locked and loaded ev­ery day,’’ McMaster said, re­peat­ing Trump’s threat.

Pom­peo said “there’s noth­ing im­mi­nent to­day,’’ in re­sponse to a ques­tion about how wor­ried should peo­ple be over the es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions. He said the U.S. has a “pretty good idea’’ of North Korea’s in­ten­tions, but Pom­peo de­clined to pro­vide specifics. The CIA chief de­scribed Kim as “ra­tio­nal’’ and re­spon­sive to “ad­verse cir­cum­stances.’’

“The re­ac­tion in North Korea that we are in­tend­ing to get is an is an un­der­stand­ing that America is no longer going to have the strate­gic pa­tience that it’s had that has per­mit­ted him to con­tinue to de­velop his weapons pro­gram,’’ Pom­peo said. “It’s that straight­for­ward.’’

The top U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cer, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dun­ford, is trav­el­ling in Asia and ex­pected to meet with lead­ers in South Korea, Ja­pan and China. Dun­ford, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told re­porters trav­el­ling with him that he aims to “sense what the tem­per­a­ture is in the re­gion.’’ He also will dis­cuss mil­i­tary op­tions in the event the “diplo­matic and eco­nomic pres­sur­iza­tion cam­paign’’ fails.

“We’re all look­ing to get out of this sit­u­a­tion with­out a war,’’ Dun­ford said.

China’s pres­i­dent, Xi Jin­ping, made a plea for cool-head­ed­ness in a phone con­ver­sa­tion with Trump on Satur­day, urg­ing both sides to avoid words or ac­tions that could worsen the sit­u­a­tion.

The call came after Trump made fresh threats against North Korea on Fri­day, declar­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary “locked and loaded’’ and warn­ing Kim that he “will re­gret it fast’’ if he takes any ac­tion against U.S. ter­ri­to­ries or al­lies.

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