Trump warns North Korea not to underestimate America
“We will offer a path to a much better future,” he said. “It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable and total denuclearisation.”
But Trump also issued a warning to the regime, saying: “Do not underestimate us. Do not try us.”
He said the US would not tolerate threats to its cities and “would not be intimidated”.
“North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned, it is a hell that no person deserves,” he told Pyongyang.
Trump gave a blistering assessment of life inside the reclusive dictatorship, highlighting a host of human rights abuses including forced labour, arbitrary detentions and famine.
Trump said the world would not tolerate “the menace of a rogue regime” and further nuclear provocations. He also called on China and Russia to help resolve the nuclear crisis by downgrading diplomatic relations with Pyongyang and severing all trade ties.China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic ally and largest trading partner, and Trump has long said Beijing holds the key to controlling Kim’s regime. After speaking in Seoul, Trump flew to Beijing, where he will meet Xi Jinping on Thursday on the next leg of his tour.
“It is our responsibility and our duty to confront this danger together,” he said. “The longer we wait, the greater the danger grows and the fewer the options become.”
Park Ju-min, a lawmaker who attended the speech, said: “It’s good that he didn’t make any comments that will enrage North Korea.
“Of course, North Korea will feel offended because of Trump’s focus on human rights abuses, but he did not make any specific threats against Kim.”
Park added that he was hoping to hear more about improving communication between South Korea and the US, saying he was worried about the US acting unilaterally in dealing with North Korea.
Trump said the world would not tolerate “the menace of a rogue regime” and further nuclear provocations. He also called on China and Russia to help resolve the nuclear crisis by downgrading diplomatic relations with Pyongyang and severing all trade ties.
China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic ally and largest trading partner, and Trump has long said Beijing holds the key to controlling Kim’s regime. After speaking in Seoul, Trump flew to Beijing, where he will meet Xi Jinping on Thursday on the next leg of his tour.
But in a briefing onboard Air Force One, senior US officials admitted efforts to open a dialogue with North Korea had been “discouraging”. Any discussions where it was not open to giving up its nuclear weapons were “a non-starter”, a White House official said, adding that any agreement must include inspections.
Before the speech, Trump was forced to abandon a surprise visit to the demilitarized zone separating South Korea and North Korea. A heavy fog prevented the president’s helicopter from landing on a trip that was meant to show support for US allies in the region and has been a tradition of past presidents.
Min Pyung-doo, a lawmaker in the ruling Democratic party, said of Trump’s speech: “He had some tough words, but the real message is that there is a path to peace through dialogue.
“He reassured us and the world that the alliance with South Korea is strong and that will go a long way to calming the people’s fears here.”
The US president has struck a more conciliatory tone during his two days in South Korea, placing greater emphasis on diplomatic efforts. He said there was “progress” in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis during a press conference on Tuesday, but declined to give details.
The same day, North Korea showed little sign of giving up its nuclear programme. A commentary in the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ party said “we will further bolster our nuclear, treasured sword of justice” if the US continues “hostile acts”.
But there is little to suggest the reclusive regime is keen on taking up the US offer of talks.
The White House official said: "I think that our administration has made clear from the start that the door is open to dialogue and efforts to sort of probe have been rather discouraging.
"They have shown very little sign that they're interested in talking."
In fact Kim Jong un responded to the president's speech by calling Trump "a lunatic old man' who may 'start nuclear war'."
The idea of diplomatic talks was first floated in September when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was "probing" to see if Pyongyang was interested in talks on denuclearisation.
With tensions at boiling point and rhetoric between the two sides running high, Mr Trump said Mr Tillerson was "wasting his time" trying to instigate talks with Kim.
But the US President struck a much softer tone in Seoul on Tuesday when he reigned in the incendiary language and instead said he believed Pyongyang should "make a deal" on its nuclear weapons programme for its people and all of humanity.
The White House official said Mr Trump believed North Korea should first reduce the threats and end provocations before moving towards sincere steps to ultimately denuclearise
But he added: “I think North Korea has shown that they are the ones that are putting forward preconditions.
"They are the ones who have been saying they're unwilling to talk about nuclear weapons - that that's not on the table.
“Well that's a nonstarter for us."
Mr Trump, who is now in China, plans to enlist Beijing's commitment to enforce economic sanctions against Pyongyang. If successful Mr Trump will have influenced North Korea's only ally.
The official said: “I think that if you look at the activity across that border, certainly there is still some trade taking place.
"There is still some financial links that exist that should not under the Security Council resolutions.
"China is doing much more than it's ever done in the past but it's not the time for complacency or for allowing people to slip through loopholes and for a lot of that residual activity to continue.
"We know that some of that activity is continuing, and we're going to work closely with the Chinese to identify that activity and end it.”
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