03:57 GMT +312 December 2017
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    A man watches a television news programme showing US President Donald Trump (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) at a railway station in Seoul on August 9, 2017

    US State Dept. Tones Down Trump's Rhetoric on N Korea as Tensions Escalate

    © AFP 2017/ JUNG Yeon-Je
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    North Korea must first stop its pursuit of nuclear tipped missiles before any dialogue can take place to avoid a looming US military threat that was signaled by President Donald Trump earlier on Friday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Patrick Murphy told reporters.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Although Murphy comments marked a restatement of longstanding US demands, Trump’s statement earlier on Friday that US forces are "locked and loaded" for a strike on North Korea appear to limit options available to avert a military confrontation.

    "Standing down on the pursuit of dangerous missiles and nuclear programs, in defiance of the international community, in defiance of the [UN] Security Council resolutions is what’s at stake here," Murphy said. "Now is not the opportunity for dialogue because we have not seen in North Korea a willingness to address these fundamental problems."

    Navy vessels are moored in port at the U.S. Naval Base Guam at Apra Harbor, Guam March 5, 2016
    © REUTERS/ Major Jeff Landis,USMC (Ret.)/Naval Base Guam/Handout/File Photo
    Murphy declined to comment on the president’s remarks, nor would he confirm published reports that US Ambassador Joseph Yun is engaged back-channel diplomacy with North Korea.

    In recent days, Trump has been widely criticized, especially by Democrats in the US Congress, for his refusal to openly negotiate with Pyongyang.

    Earlier this week, Kim Jong Un said that Pyongyang is considering an attack on Guam, which hosts multiple US military bases after Trump threatened Pyongyang with "fire and fury."

    Earlier, media reports suggested that the Pentagon had prepared a contingency plan to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea, which may involve US fighters on Guam. A strike could also come from sea, land or cyberspace – if ordered by US President Donald Trump.

    The United States has recently intensified training flights of B-1B bombers stationed at the Andersen air base in Guam after tensions rised over North Korean increased missile tests.

    The tensions around North Korea have been high over the recent months and they have escalated further after the tightening of the economic sanctions against North Korea by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Saturday in response to July's launches of ballistic missiles by Pyongyang.

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    Tags:
    U.S. Department of State, Donald Trump, Guam, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), United States
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