KONFRONTASI-President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that the United States would no longer tolerate North Korea’s actions but said the use of military force against Pyongyang will not be his “first choice.”
His comment appeared to be in line with classified briefings to Congress in which Trump’s top national security aides - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence - stressed the search for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, lawmakers said.
A senior administration official, meanwhile, said that the White House has set aside for now consideration of exiting a free trade pact with South Korea, a move being contemplated by Trump that could have complicated relations with Seoul.
In a flurry of phone calls with world leaders days after North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to ”take further action with the goal of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the White House said.
”President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump told reporters, though he offered no specifics.
“I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent,” he added.
Asked whether he was considering a military response to North Korea, Trump said: ”Certainly, that’s not our first choice, but we will see what happens.”
Xi, who has been under pressure from Trump to do more to help curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, told the U.S. president during their 45-minute call that the North Korean issue must be resolved through “dialogue and consultation.”
The focus on negotiations by China, North Korea’s main trading partner, contrasted with Trump’s assertions over the last few days that now was not the time for talks with North Korea while pressing instead for increased international pressure on Pyongyang.
The United States and South Korea have asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test on Sunday that Pyongyang said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday that resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis was impossible with sanctions and pressure alone.
Putin met South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of an economic summit in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok amid mounting international concern that their neighbor plans more weapons tests, including possibly a long-range missile launch before a weekend anniversary.
Putin echoed other world leaders in denouncing North Korea’s latest nuclear bomb test on Sunday, saying Russia did not recognize its nuclear status.
“Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear program is a crude violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, undermines the non-proliferation regime and creates a threat to the security of northeastern Asia,” Putin said at a news conference.
“At the same time, it is clear that it is impossible to resolve the problem of the Korean peninsula only by sanctions and pressure,” he said.
No headway could be made without political and diplomatic tools, Putin said.