By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump tightened the screws on North Korea Friday, warning Pyongyang would “truly regret” taking any hostile action against the US as he prepared for talks with China’s leader on the crisis.
Trump has been engaged all week in a war of words with the North over its weapons and missile programs, as US media reported Pyongyang has successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead.
The Republican billionaire has progressively ramped up the tone throughout the week and on Friday declared that the US military is “locked and loaded.”
He had earlier brandished a threat of unleashing “fire and fury” on Pyongyang, then noted Thursday maybe that statement “wasn’t tough enough.”
But Trump also appeared to be open to diplomacy, saying he would speak on the phone Friday night with Xi Jinping, the president of China — isolated North Korea’s giant neighbor and closest ally.
“We have been working very closely with China and with other countries,” Trump said.
“Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump,” he said.
The North’s official KCNA news service in an editorial accused Trump of “driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war,” calling the US “the heinous nuclear war fanatic.”
The saber-rattling has sparked worldwide concerns that a miscalculation by either side could trigger a catastrophic conflict on the Korean peninsula.
China, Russia and Germany have urged both sides to tone down the rhetoric.
“Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” Trump wrote Friday from his golf club retreat in New Jersey, where he is on a working vacation.
Later in the day, he lashed out at Pyongyang’s plans to launch missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, urging Kim to heed his warnings.
“If he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast.”