ROUGH RHETORIC: Japan deployed a missile-defense system yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s EU Political and Security Committee meeting to discuss ‘next steps’
Chinese President Xi Jinping （習近平） moved to calm growing tensions over North Korea, telling US President Donald Trump in a telephone call yesterday that all sides should maintain restraint and avoid inflammatory comments.
Xi’s comments, reported by China Central Television, came shortly after Trump added to his aggressive tweets by saying that US military options were “locked and loaded” if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un acted unwisely.
The White House said that Trump and Xi agreed that North Korea must stop provocative behavior, reiterating their mutual commitment to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.
It also said that Trump looked forward to visiting China later this year, calling the relationship between the two leaders “extremely close.”
The call came as Japan set up a missile-defense system in western areas of the nation following a threat by North Korea to fire missiles over Japan toward the US territory of Guam.
The deployment of four Patriot interceptors was expected to be completed yesterday, a spokesman for the Japanese Ministry of Defense said by telephone.
He asked not to be named.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told local media earlier yesterday that he would “do his best” to protect the lives and property of his fellow citizens.
South Korea hopes the talks between Trump and Xi are an opportunity to ease the high tensions and shift the situation into a new phase, South Korea’s presidential Blue House was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.
The EU’s Political and Security Committee is to meet tomorrow in an extraordinary session called by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini to discuss “possible next steps” on North Korea, an e-mailed statement said.
Trump has stepped up warnings that Kim’s regime would face a devastating military strike if it continued threatening the US.
On Friday, he said that if Kim makes any “overt threat” or strike at a US territory or ally “he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”
Trump also said that the US was considering tighter sanctions against North Korea.
“Hopefully it will all work out,” he told reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”
The US has not taken any public steps to prepare for hostilities such as evacuating Americans from Seoul, which is within range of North Korean artillery, or moving ships, aircraft or troops into position for an imminent response.
US Naval War College national security affairs professor Terence Roehrig said Trump’s posture suggested he was trying to dissuade Kim from further provocations rather than setting the stage for a US military strike.
“The president’s rhetoric could be aimed at China, but largely it is aimed at North Korea, trying to deter,” Roehrig said. “North Koreans are not suicidal. They may continue launching missile tests, but they don’t want a war and the US doesn’t want military action either.”