ADDS DIPLOMATIC DIALOGUE BELOW SIXTH GRAPH
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - President Donald Trump on Friday ratcheted up his rhetoric against North Korea, warning the U.S. military is prepared to strike the country.
"Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely," Trump tweeted before retweeting Pentagon photographs of B1 bombers that are said to be key to U.S. plans to strike the North.
"Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" he added, in reference to the country's authoritarian leader.
The comments are the latest from Trump seeking to apply pressure to Kim in hopes of thwarting future ballistic missile and nuclear tests.
On Thursday, Trump threatened that should Kim's government strike the U.S. or its allies "things will happen to them like they never thought possible".
Unfazed, the North’s state-run KCNA news agency cited officials claiming America’s regional military strategy and sanctions risk inviting “a shameful defeat and final doom”.
But even as rhetoric between the countries continues to escalate, the U.S. and North Korea have been engaged in a months-long closed-door dialogue.
The Associated Press reported the rivals had been engaged diplomatically to address the fate of Americans imprisoned in the North, and to improve deteriorating ties.
Citing those familiar with the talks, the news agency said while the "New York channel" has so far been unable to diffuse tensions it could be foundational to any potential official talks should the rhetorical back-and-forth die down.
Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, is leading the U.S. side while and Pak Song Il, a senior North Korean diplomat at the country’s UN mission, is heading Pyongyang's efforts.
During a Friday morning telephone call, Trump National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster assured his South Korean counterpart that Seoul would be involved in any steps taken by Washington against Pyongyang.
While the South has insisted the door to inter-Korean dialogue remains open, Trump maintained Thursday that Pyongyang can be “very, very nervous” if it even thinks of attacking the U.S. or its allies, including South Korea.
With concerns rising of a possible American preemptive strike on the North, National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong and McMaster “discussed current security conditions surrounding the Korean Peninsula caused by North Korean provocations and heightened tension, and ways to deal with such threats," Blue House spokesman Park Soo-hyun was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as telling reporters.
“The two sides reaffirmed their promise to closely and transparently cooperate on the steps to be taken in each stage to help ensure the security and safety of both South Korea, the United States and their people,” Park added.