U.S. Allies Voice Concerns Over Escalation of Rhetoric Between Trump and North Korea

LONDON (The Washington Post) -
Trump North Korea
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in May. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/File)

Key U.S. allies and international partners called for greater efforts to open talks with North Korea on Wednesday, pushing back against an escalation of military rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea, reacting to a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for sanctions against the North for developing nuclear weapons and missile systems, said it would not give up its military program and said its missiles could reach anywhere in the United States. After Mr. Trump threatened “fire and fury” on Tuesday if North Korea’s provocations continue, Kim Jong Un’s regime then announced that it was considering to attack Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific.

Some U.S. allies appeared to blame Mr. Trump’s remarks for the escalation. Germany’s foreign office called “on all parties for moderation,” on Wednesday.

“Sabre-rattling won’t help,” the Foreign Ministry said in the tweet.

Concerns in Germany were shared by officials and experts elsewhere.

The spokeswoman for the European Union’s foreign policy chief agreed that “a lasting peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula must be achieved through peaceful means.”

“That excludes military action,” said the spokeswoman.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Bill English similarly called Trump’s comments “not helpful” in a standoff that was already “very tense.”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned that responding to North Korea’s threats with “fire and fury,” as Mr. Trump had warned, would have “catastrophic consequences” worldwide. The Australian leader argued that instead, economic pressure and sanctions could be more effective at deterring the Kim Jong Un regime.

Turnbull was referring to sanctions passed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council last weekend – a response to North Korea’s launch of two intercontinental missiles in July. The latest measures step up restrictions on North Korea’s international trade, with estimates saying that they may cost the country about $1 billion annually.

“The global community, led by the Security Council, including China and Russia, are all united in seeking to bring the maximum economic pressure on North Korea to bring them to their senses without conflict,” Australian Prime Minister Turnbull was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

“A conflict would be shattering. It would have catastrophic consequences. We all understand that,” Turnbull said.

Some nations voiced concerns that Mr. Trump’s threats could endanger the prospects of recent international efforts. A statement released by China’s Foreign Ministry warned all parties to avoid actions and rhetoric that could contribute to an escalation, and it urged to put more emphasis on international talks instead, according to Reuters.

Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz, the U.N. ambassador of Bolivia, which is currently a temporary member of the Security Council, criticized that Trump’s escalation of rhetoric “goes against the spirit” of the U.N. sanctions, which called for international talks. Trump’s decision to raise tensions would be “detrimental” to international peace, Soliz said.

But a representative for Britain refrained from lashing out at the president. Speaking to reporters in New York City, Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s U.N. ambassador, said the United Kingdom was standing “shoulder to shoulder with the United States.”

Asked about the rhetoric used by Trump on Tuesday, Rycroft responded: “(What’s) hurting the six-party talks is the inability so far of the North Korean regime to do what it has to do which is to halt its nuclear program and to halt its intercontinental ballistic missile program.”