US wants to peacefully resolve a deepening standoff with North Korea

Vastavam web: The top US military officer said today that the US wants to peacefully resolve a deepening standoff with North Korea but is also ready to use the “full range” of its military capabilities in case of provocation.The comments by Marine Corps Gen Joseph Dunford in a series of meetings with senior South Korean military and political officials and the local media appeared to be an attempt to ease anxiety over tit-for-tat threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea while also showing a willingness to back up Trump’s warnings if need be.Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting South Korea, Japan and China after a week in which Trump declared the US military “locked and loaded” and said he was ready to unleash “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to threaten the United States.

The US-North Korea impasse, which has simmered since the end of the Korean War in 1953, has grown more tense in recent months over worries that the North’s nuclear weapons program is nearing the ability to target the US mainland.Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.”We are seeking a peaceful resolution to the crisis,” Dunford, who also met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said to reporters, according to a local pool report.Moon separately called today for a peaceful solution to the nuclear standoff, saying that “there must not be another war on the Korean Peninsula,” according to his office.

In a meeting with top aides at the presidential Blue House, Moon said South Korea would work to safeguard peace on the peninsula in cooperation with the United States and other countries. Moon said North Korea must stop issuing menacing statements and provoking.The North accused the United States of mobilising a huge number of weapons and troops for annual military drills with South Korea that begin later this month. Pyongyang, which claims the drills are war preparation, says it will be ready to send its Guam missile launch plan to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for approval just before or as the drills begin.”What matters is that if a second conflict (on the peninsula) erupts, that cannot help but lead to a nuclear war,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary. “We are closely monitoring every move by the United States.” He also will discuss military options in the event the “diplomatic and economic pressurisation campaign” fails.

“We’re all looking to get out of this situation without a war,” Dunford said.Chinese President Xi Jinping talked on the phone Saturday with Trump and called for cool-headedness. Xi urged Washington and Pyongyang to avoid words or actions that could worsen the situation.Trump’s recent threats followed a report that US intelligence indicates North Korea can now put a nuclear warhead on its long-range missiles.For all his bluster, Trump’s words did not appear to be backed by significant military mobilisation on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remained open.Yesterday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Army Lt Gen HR McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, tried to provide assurances that a conflict is avoidable, while also supporting Trump’s tough talk.