Published: Fri, August 18, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Japan, US conduct live-fire drill amid tension

Japan, US conduct live-fire drill amid tension

US President Donald Trump warned North Korea last week it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the US, prompting North Korea to say it was considering plans to fire missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam.

North Korea has released propaganda posters boasting that the USA mainland "is within our strike range!" and condemning United Nations sanctions over its recent missile tests. "I think the president just felt it was necessary to remind the regime of what the consequences for them would be if they chose to carry out those threats".

Most of the talks focused on North Korea's rapid advances in developing nuclear arms and ballistic missiles.

Noting that the global community recognises North Korea as a threat to Asia and to the world, Mr Mattis said Japan and South Korea are on the front line against the North Korean threat.

Japan is planning to deploy a land-based Aegis missile defense system to counter North Korea's growing missile provocations. Officials are now looking to achieve this by the end of this year, the government source said.

Tillerson said the United States wanted dialogue with Pyongyang, but only if it were meaningful.

Tillerson warned again that North Korea faced a "bleak future" if it does not agree to negotiate disarmament, and Mattis insisted that United States regional allies are ready.

Tillerson said any diplomatic challenge the USA faces "has to be backed by a strong military outcome if North Korea chooses wrongly".

Trump later praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a "wise" decision after he delayed the Guam decision.

The spokesman denied any link between the drill and recent regional tension over North Korea.

"Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don't know what you're talking about, there's no military solution here, they got us", he said.

"I don't really have a comment on what Mr Bannon's remarks were on that particular interview".

Contributing to the concern was Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who this month told a group of current and former senior US security officials and foreign policy experts that "preventive" war with North Korea was one of the "viable" military options under consideration.

The colourful posters and defiant slogans are the latest sign of the tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over the North's nuclear weapons program.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho sounded out his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono about a possible dialogue between their countries, during a short conversation Mr Ri and Mr Kono had on Aug 6 in Manila, government sources said.

Mr Kono said the two countries agreed to ramp up effective pressure.

The United States is ready to offer law enforcement and other help, and the U.S. Embassy in Barcelona is helping Americans who may be affected, Tillerson said.

Both Tillerson and Kono also offered condolences for the loss of life and injuries in Barcelona where a van was driven into pedestrians.

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