Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Xi calls for calm after Trump says U.S. is 'locked and loaded'

Xi calls for calm after Trump says U.S. is 'locked and loaded'

Tillerson who in a bid to douse tension arising from President Trump's threat which said North Korea would face "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continues to threaten the United States had earlier on Wednesday en route to Guam, the US territory in the Pacific that North Korea threatened this week to destroy with an "enveloping fire", assured Americans to sleep with all eyes closed as there is no danger of imminent attack.

"The reaction that concerns me more is among [our allies]. especially South Korea and Japan, to some extent Australia", he continued.

The White House said in a statement that Trump and Xi "agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior".

It was the latest and largest cleanup effort undertaken by President Trump's aides since this administration took power. From the vantage point of Beijing, this risks North Korea behaving even more unpredictably and, although unlikely, could even lead to the fall of Kim Jong Un.

Trump on Tuesday seemed to be setting the red line for North Korea at any kind of threat - which Pyongyang, of course, makes often and would do again, soon after Trump's comments, by threatening Guam.

While Washington's next steps are not clear, it looks increasingly likely that the two-decade U.S. policy of "strategic patience" towards Pyongyang may now be over.

"Right now you can hear the screws turning on Aegis ships steaming somewhere between North Korea and Guam", said Tom Karako, director of the missile defense project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"The powerful revolutionary Paektusan army of the DPRK, capable of fighting any war the USA wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack", it said.

The tough talk capped a week in which long-standing tensions between the countries risked abruptly boiling over.

Asked if the USA was going to war, he said cryptically, "I think you know the answer to that".

Also on Thursday afternoon, Trump answered reporters' questions at his New Jersey golf resort, where he is spending a 17-day "working vacation".

But Trump's comments did not appear to be backed by significant military mobilization on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remained open.

"What they've been doing and what they've been getting away with is a tragedy and it can't be allowed", Trump said.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) defended President Trump's threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea Thursday, saying the president's comments were meant to put pressure on China. "Fight tonight" has long been the motto of US forces in South Korea to show they're always ready for combat on the Korean Peninsula.

"Hopefully it'll all work out", Trump said.

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