WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House said on Friday (Sept 15) that President Donald Trump will meet the leaders of Japan and South Korea in New York next week to discuss the “urgent” threat posed by North Korea and dismissed claims there was no military option to dealing with Pyongyang.
The US leader will host a lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Trump’s National Security Adviser HR McMaster told a White House briefing.
“As Kim Jong-Un’s most recent launch demonstrates, this is one of the world’s most urgent and dangerous security problems,” he added.
Hours earlier, Pyongyang had fired a missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean – its longest missile flight yet – in response to fresh punitive measures imposed by the UN Security Council. That launch came less than two weeks after Pyongyang staged its most powerful nuclear test yet.
McMaster sent a mixed message on Friday, insisting that the US retained a “military option” in dealing with North Korea even while calling on “everyone to do everything we can to address the global problem short of war.”
“We’re out of time,” McMaster said.
“We have been kicking the can down the road and we are out of road.
“For those who have been commenting about the lack of a military option, there is a military option,” he said.
“Now it’s not what we prefer to do.”
“We need time obviously for any strategy to work,” he added.
The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said trade with North Korea would be cut 90 per cent after the “massive sanctions” package agreed by the Security Council. That, she added, “is just the beginning of what we can do.”
On Monday, McMaster said, Trump will also meet French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks focused on Iran.
Trump has called the nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, which requires Teheran to reduce its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
But on Thursday, he extended the sanctions relief, avoiding a step that could have undercut the accord.
Key US allies, including France, have strongly encouraged Trump to uphold the agreement in order to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal. Macron has said he sees “no alternative” to sticking by the accord.
But Netanyahu strongly opposes the deal, saying Tehran cannot be trusted and that Israel’s survival could be at stake.
Trump has to certify in mid-October whether he believes Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal.