Trump’s war talk ruffles global feathers
‘TIME TO INVADE VENEZUELA’
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
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,