SEOUL • North Korea ruled out talks and threatened to increase its nuclear arsenal in a fresh warning to Mr Donald Trump's administration yesterday, as the US President set off on a tour of Asia.
State-run KCNA news agency said in a commentary that the United States should be disabused of the "absurd idea" that Pyongyang would succumb to international sanctions and give up its nuclear weapons, warning that it is in "the final stage for completing nuclear deterrence".
"It had better stop daydreaming of denuclearisation talks with us," said the commentary. "Our self-defensive nuclear treasure sword will be sharpened evermore unless the US hostile policy towards the DPRK is abolished once and for all," the news agency said, referring to the North's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Mr Trump, who dismissed direct talks with Pyongyang as a "waste of time", has rattled the region by trading insults and threats of war with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in recent months.
There is widespread concern in South Korea that the US President's visit might worsen the situation if he fails to rein in his fierce rhetoric.
"Because of his tendency to veer off the script, many Koreans are worried that he may let loose," Professor Yang Moo Jin of the University of North Korean Studies told AFP.
Some 500 protesters took to the streets in Seoul yesterday, accusing Mr Trump of bringing the Korean peninsula to the brink of war.
Mr Trump arrives in Japan today on the first stop of his tour of Asia, which also includes South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
In Tokyo, he is expected to present a united front with the Japanese against North Korea. He is to speak to US and Japanese forces at Yokota airbase shortly after arriving.
In a display of golf diplomacy, Mr Trump will also play a round of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Before leaving for Japan, Mr Trump and his wife Melania stopped over at Pearl Harbour. They visited the USS Arizona memorial, the resting place of the World War II ship that was sunk by the Japanese during the Pearl Harbour attack in 1941.
Mr Trump's tour of Asia is the longest by a US president since Mr George H.W. Bush's trip in 1992. He had been scheduled to return home on Nov 13, a day before a leaders' meeting at the East Asia Summit, a traditional venue for discussing regional policy issues such as North Korean aggression and China's activities in the South China Sea.
Foreign policy experts had warned that Mr Trump's decision to forgo the gathering could deepen anxieties among Asian partners over US commitment to the region.
Mr Trump decided on Friday to extend his trip by a day so that he could attend the East Asia Summit in Manila. He will also attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam. The Kremlin said talks were under way to set up an encounter between Mr Trump and President Vladimir Putin during the summit.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS