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Trump urges N. Korea to ‘make deal’ to end standoff

Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korea’s President Moon Jae In shake hands at South Korea’s presidential Blue House in Seoul on Tuesday.

ReutersSEOUL (Reuters) — U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned North Korea he was prepared to use the full range of U.S. military power to stop any attack, but in a more conciliatory appeal than ever before he urged Pyongyang to “make a deal” to end the nuclear standoff.

Speaking on North Korea’s doorstep during a visit to Seoul, Trump said that while “we hope to God” not to have to resort to the use of full U.S. military might, he was ready to do whatever was necessary to prevent the “North Korean dictator” from threatening millions of lives.

“We cannot allow North Korea to threaten all that we have built,” Trump said after talks with South Korean President Moon Jae In, who has supported diplomatic outreach to Pyongyang.

But at times taking a more measured, less confrontational tone, Trump also urged North Korea to “do the right thing” and added that: “I do see some movement,” though he declined to elaborate.

“It really makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and make a deal,” Trump told reporters at a joint news conference with Moon.

Despite Trump’s renewed threats against North Korea, it was a far cry from the more strident approach he has pursued in recent months, including his previous dismissal of any diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang as a waste of time.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made clear, however, that he has little interest in negotiations, at least until he has developed a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

Landing earlier at Osan Air Base outside Seoul, the president and first lady Melania Trump stepped down from Air Force One onto a red carpet as he began a 24-hour visit that could aggravate tension with North Korea.

He then flew by helicopter to Camp Humphreys, the largest U.S. military base in the country, and met U.S. and South Korean troops, along with Moon.

The White House billed Trump’s trip as intended to demonstrate U.S. resolve over a hardline approach to the North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

But many in the region had expressed fear that any further bellicose rhetoric by Trump toward Pyongyang could increase the potential for a devastating military conflict.

Trump praised Moon for “great cooperation” despite differences in the past over how to confront North Korea and over a trade pact between the United States and South Korea.

At the news conference, the leaders said they had agreed to renegotiate the trade agreement in a timely fashion.

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