Trump’s war talk ruf­fles global feath­ers

‘TIME TO IN­VADE VENEZUELA’

CityPress - - News -

Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping urged US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Satur­day to avoid rhetoric that could in­flame ten­sions with North Korea as an escalating war of words raised global alarm.

Xi made the plea in a phone call hours af­ter Trump ramped up his warn­ings to Py­ongyang, say­ing the Stal­in­ist regime would “truly re­gret” tak­ing hos­tile ac­tion against the US.

The White House said in a state­ment that the two lead­ers “agreed North Korea must stop provoca­tive and es­ca­la­tory be­hav­iour” and that they were both com­mit­ted to the de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of the penin­sula.

But the Chi­nese for­eign min­istry said Xi urged Trump to avoid “words and deeds” that would “ex­ac­er­bate” the al­ready tense sit­u­a­tion, ex­er­cise re­straint and seek a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment.

Mean­while, Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov urged Py­ongyang and Washington to sign up to a pre­vi­ously un­veiled joint Rus­sian-Chi­nese plan by which North Korea would freeze mis­sile tests and the US and South Korea would im­pose a mora­to­rium on largescale mil­i­tary ex­er­cises.

Nei­ther the US nor North Korea has em­braced the plan.

Trump has been en­gaged all week in ver­bal spar­ring with North Korea over its weapons and mis­sile pro­grammes, as US me­dia re­ported Py­ongyang had suc­cess­fully minia­turised a nu­clear war­head.

Ja­panese me­dia said Tokyo was de­ploy­ing its Pa­triot mis­sile de­fence sys­tem fol­low­ing Py­ongyang’s threat to fire bal­lis­tic mis­siles over the country to­wards Guam.

In an­other move that could fur­ther fan the flames, satel­lite pho­tos posted by de­fence ex­pert US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has threat­ened mil­i­tary ac­tion as a re­sponse to the escalating cri­sis in Venezuela, a move the South Amer­i­can country quickly shot down as “crazi­ness”. Washington has slapped sanc­tions on Pres­i­dent Ni­colás Maduro and some of his al­lies and branded him a “dic­ta­tor” over his at­tempts to crush his country’s op­po­si­tion. Venezuela has, in turn, ac­cused the US of “im­pe­ri­al­ist aggression.”

But Trump’s lat­est com­ments were the first sign that he is mulling mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion. “Venezuela is a mess. It is a very dan­ger­ous mess and a very sad sit­u­a­tion ... We have many op­tions for Venezuela, in­clud­ing a pos­si­ble mil­i­tary op­tion if nec­es­sary. We have troops all over the world in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the peo­ple are suf­fer­ing and they’re dy­ing,” Trump

Joseph Ber­mudez sug­gested that North Korea could be pre­par­ing for fresh sub­ma­rine-based bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests. Trump had ear­lier bran­dished a threat of un­leash­ing “fire and fury” on Py­ongyang, then noted on Thurs­day that maybe that state­ment “wasn’t tough enough”.

China, North Korea’s big­gest ally and trade part­ner, has been voic­ing con­cern at the mount­ing ex­changes, and a state-run news­pa­per sug­gested that Beijing should stay neu­tral if Py­ongyang struck the US first.

Pre­vi­ously ac­cused by Trump of not do­ing enough to rein in the au­thor­i­tar­ian regime, China voted in favour of a se­ries of sweep­ing UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tions against North Korea told re­porters.

Trump said Venezuela’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis was among the top­ics dis­cussed at the talks he hosted at his golf club in New Jersey with Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son and UN am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley.

The cri­sis has fu­elled street demon­stra­tions that have gripped Venezuela for the past four months. Nearly 130 peo­ple have been killed in clashes be­tween protesters and se­cu­rity forces.

But if any US mil­i­tary con­tin­gency plan­ning is un­der way, it must be in its early stages. A Pen­tagon spokesper­son, Eric Pa­hon, re­fused to elab­o­rate on Trump’s com­ments, adding: “As of right now, the Pen­tagon has re­ceived no or­ders.”

Gen­eral Vladimir Padrino, Venezuela’s de­fence min­is­ter, dis­missed the threat as “an act of crazi­ness, an act of supreme ex­trem­ism” by “an ex­trem­ist elite” gov­ern­ing the US.

AFP and Reuters – AFP

last week­end.

In Moscow, Lavrov said the risks of a mil­i­tary con­flict over North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gramme were very high and Moscow was deeply wor­ried by the threats from both sides.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the rhetoric in Washington and Py­ongyang is now start­ing to go over the top,” Lavrov said on live state tele­vi­sion at a fo­rum for Rus­sian stu­dents. “We still hope and be­lieve that com­mon sense will pre­vail.”

The an­nual joint US-South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cise, called Ulchi-Free­dom Guardian, is ex­pected to pro­ceed as sched­uled, start­ing on Au­gust 21, said Lieu­tenant Colonel Christo­pher Lo­gan, a Pen­tagon spokesper­son.

– Staff re­porter,

Don­ald Trump

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