Seoul: North Korea poses a worldwide threat that needs worldwide action, President Donald Trump said in Seoul today, but insisted “we are making a lot of progress” in reining in the rogue state.
The US leader, standing alongside his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In, reiterated he was prepared to use the full range of American military might to halt Pyongyang’s march towards becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.
North Korea, he said, was “a worldwide threat that requires a worldwide action”, but added: “I think we are making a lot of progress.”
“Ultimately, it will all work out,” he said. “It always works out. It has to work out.”
But he added: “It makes sense for North Korea to come to the table to make a deal that is good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world.”
Trump’s tone in Seoul was in marked contrast to previous rhetoric.
Only a day earlier, Trump had declared in Tokyo on the first leg of his Asia tour that the time was over for “strategic patience” with Pyongyang, which in September carried out its most powerful nuclear test to date.
Trump has traded personal insults and threats of war with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, raising fears of possible US military action and rapid escalation.
But in the South Korean capital, just 35 miles south of the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula, the US president was reassuring.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he has often described as holding the key to disarming the North, has been “very, very helpful”, he said, expressing hopes Russia would be similarly co-operative.
Trump goes on China tomorrow after addressing the South Korean parliament.
Trump arrived from Japan, where he secured Tokyo’s full support for Washington’s stance that “all options are on the table” regarding Pyongyang, and declared its nuclear ambitions “a threat to the civilised world and international peace and stability”.
And Moon, whose parents were evacuated from the North on a US ship during the Korean War, was full of praise for the United States at Camp Humphreys, where US forces stationed in the country, 28,500 in total, have moved their headquarters from downtown Seoul.
“They say one knows a true friend when one is in need,” he told Trump. “The United States is a true friend who has been with us and has bled with us in our time of need.”
South Korea is rolling out the red carpet for Trump as it seeks assurances about the alliance and US resolve.
But while Trump has threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury”, Moon is mindful that much of Seoul is within range of the North’s artillery and in an address to parliament last week demanded: “There should be no military action on the peninsula without our prior consent.”
North Korea itself welcomed Trump to the region with a rhetorical volley via the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, calling the US a “thrice-cursed nuclear criminal”