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Trump gives Kim pat on back for ‘wise’ Guam step

BEIJING/TOKYO

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a “wise” decision not to fire missiles towards the US territory of Guam and for easing escalating tension between the two countries.

Reclusive North Korea has made no secret of its plan to develop a missile capable of firing a nuclear warhead at the United States to counter what it perceives as constant US threats of invasion, and tension has been rising for months.

Trump warned North Korea last week it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States, prompting North Korea to say it was considering test-firing missiles towards the Pacific island of Guam.

But North Korean media reported on Tuesday Kim had delayed the decision while he awaited to see what the United States did next.

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!”

North Korea has long ignored warnings from the West and from its lone major ally, China, to halt its nuclear and missile tests which it conducts in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

The United States has been hoping China can press the North to rein in its weapons programmes. The top US general reiterated that in talks in Beijing this week.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army, in Beijing that North Korea’s weapons programmes threatened the entire international community, including China.

“He emphasised that the US and China have the same goal – a denuclearised Korean peninsula achieved through peaceful means … North Korean actions threaten the economic and military security of China,” a US military spokesman said in a statement.

“In the interest of regional stability, he said the US views with growing urgency the need for China to increase pressure on the North Korean regime,” the spokesman said.

“Should preferred diplomatic and economic peaceful options fail, General Dunford reiterated America’s resolve to use the full range of military capabilities to defend our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan, as well as the US homeland.”

China has repeatedly called for all sides to exercise restraint and remain calm, and while it has signed up for tough UN sanctions on North Korea, it says the key to a resolution lies in Washington and Pyongyang talking to each other, rather than expecting China to do all the work.

Japan conducted air manoeuvres with US bombers southwest of the Korean peninsula on Wednesday involving two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam and two Japanese F-15 jet fighters, Japan’s Air Self Defence Force said in a news release.

Agencies