NEW YORK CITY — US President Donald Trump on Friday capped off a week of tough talk on North Korea with some of his most blunt comments yet, promising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would “regret it fast” if he made any “overt threats” or followed through on them.
Trump was asked during a press availability what he meant by a tweet earlier on Friday that said, “Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.”
Trump said the message was “pretty obvious.”
“I hope that they’re going to fully understand the gravity,” Trump said of North Korea. “What I said is what I mean. Those words are very very easy to understand.”
Trump returned to making intense threats not only over North Korea’s actions, but its words as well.
“If he utters one more threat in the form of an overt threat, which, by the way, he has been uttering for years, and his family has been uttering for years, or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast,” Trump said.
Asked about an Associated Press report that the US and North Korea had been conducting secretive back channel diplomacy, Trump demurred.
“We don’t want to talk about back channels,” he said.
Joel Wit, a former State Department official with experience dealing with North Korea, told Business Insider that back channel talks should be private and separate from public rhetoric.
Trump was also confronted with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comment that “escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer” with respect to North Korea. The president touted his friendship with Merkel but dismissed her comment.
“Let her speak for Germany,” he said.
Trump also again took the opportunity to question the leadership of past US presidents on North Korea, saying they hadn’t acted properly on the situation. While US presidents since Bill Clinton have tried to engage North Korea, impose sanctions, or offer diplomacy, none of those strategies achieved any more than delaying Pyongyang’s status as a nuclear power.
Trump also blamed media bias for negative coverage of his fiery rhetoric this week.
“If someone else uttered the exact same word that I did they’d say ‘what a great statement,'” Trump said of the media.
Trump reiterated his statement that “tens of millions that are so happy” that “finally we have a president that’s sticking up for our nation.”
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