Bel­li­cose Trump adds more fuel to his ‘fire and fury’ war of words

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BEI­JING: China should re­main neu­tral if North Korea launches an at­tack that threat­ens the US, a Chi­nese staterun news­pa­per said yes­ter­day, sound­ing a warn­ing for Py­ongyang over its plans to fire mis­siles near the US Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam.

The com­ments from the in­flu­en­tial Global Times came af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stepped up his rhetoric against North Korea on Thurs­day, say­ing his ear­lier threat to un­leash “fire and fury” on Py­ongyang if it launched an at­tack may not have been tough enough.

Trump is­sued an­other warn­ing to North Korea yes­ter­day with a ref­er­ence to Amer­i­can weapons as be­ing “locked and loaded”.

“Mil­i­tary solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act un­wisely. Hope­fully Kim Jong- un will find an­other path,” Trump tweeted.

Asian eq­uity mar­kets sank again yes­ter­day and Euro­pean stocks looked set for their worst week this year be­cause of the ten­sions.

“This sit­u­a­tion is be­gin­ning to de­velop into this gen­er­a­tion’s Cuban mis­sile cri­sis mo­ment,” ING’s chief Asia economist Robert Car­nell said in a re­search note.

“While the US pres­i­dent in­sists on ramp­ing up the war of words, there is a de­creas­ing chance of any diplo­matic so­lu­tion.”

China, North Korea’s most im­por­tant ally and trad­ing part­ner, has re­it­er­ated calls for calm.

Bei­jing has ex­pressed frus­tra­tion with Py­ongyang’s re­peated nu­clear and mis­sile tests and with be­hav­iour from South Korea and the US, such as mil­i­tary drills, that it sees as es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions.

China’s For­eign Min­istry re­it­er­ated a call for all par­ties to speak and act cau­tiously and do more to ease the sit­u­a­tion, rather than go­ing down the “old path” of ex­changes of shows of force and con­tin­u­ally ris­ing ten­sion.

North Korea’s state- run KCNA news agency said its army would com­plete plans this month to fire four in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles over Ja­pan to land near Guam.

Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not go­ing to get away with his “hor­rific” com­ments and dis­re­spect­ing Amer­ica.

“Let’s see what he does with Guam.

“He does some­thing in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which no­body’s seen be­fore, what will hap­pen in North Korea,” Trump told re­porters in New Jersey, with­out of­fer­ing specifics.

Shortly af­ter he spoke, US De­fence Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis told re­porters the US still pre­ferred a diplo­matic ap­proach to the North Korean threat and that a war would be “cat­a­strophic”.

Asked if the US was ready if North Korea made a hos­tile act, he said: “We are ready”.

Ten­sion in the re­gion has risen since the reclu­sive North staged two nu­clear bomb tests last year and launched two in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests last month in de­fi­ance of world pow­ers.

Trump has said he would not al­low Py­ongyang to de­velop a nu­clear weapon ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the US.

On Guam, a trop­i­cal is­land more than 3 000km to the south­east of North Korea, res­i­dents re­mained san­guine.

“We’re just gonna sit down and bar­be­cue here and have fun,” said Peter Toves, 47, a Guam na­tive who rents out kayaks and jet­skis.

“There’s noth­ing that we can do, just wait,” said Toves – Reuters

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