15 August, 2017
That rhetoric included a threat from North Korea to strike near the US territory of Guam using four of its missiles, and President Trump shooting back that the USA military is quote "lock and loaded" for North Korea, in case it acts unwisely.
"We can not have a war on the Korean peninsula ever again", he said. The trip has been long scheduled and was not arranged in response to the North Korean nuclear threat.
"I am certain the United States will respond to the current situation calmly and responsibly in a stance that is equal to ours", he said.
Any confrontation between the two will inevitably draw in South Korea, which faces thousands of North Korean troops and artillery guns across the heavily militarized border.
"By trying to incriminate Beijing as an accomplice in (North Korea's) nuclear adventure and blame it for a failure that is essentially a failure of all stakeholders, Trump risks making the serious mistake of splitting up the worldwide coalition that is the means to resolve the issue peacefully", it said.
Dunford agreed that the recent series of missile provocation by North Korea led to grave security situations on the peninsula, saying no change was made in the USA commitment to the defence of South Korea.
Less than six years into his reign, Kim has tested more missiles than his father and grandfather combined, conducted three nuclear tests, and is racing to develop a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit the USA mainland.
The United States maintains a large military presence in the Western Pacific that has gained renewed focus following North Korean belligerence and an increasingly assertive China.
"While diplomacy is our preferred means of changing North Korea's course of action, it is backed by military options", they said. There are 28,500 US service members on the peninsula and that number fluctuates from time to time due to exercises and new capabilities.
In response to questions about the US response if North Korea were to launch missiles against Guam, Dunford asked reporters to not confuse military action with policy.
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"He encouraged strengthening trilateral cooperation between the U.S., (South Korea) and Japan", James said.
Dunford was in Seoul speaking to South Korean military officials, including Defence Minister Song Young-moo. "We are closely monitoring every move by the United States".
"I really don't see a unified message", Moon said.
However, North Korea reiterated its threats, with its official KCNA news agency saying "war can not be blocked by any power if sparks fly due to a small, random incident that was unintentional". "[We're] also mindful of the civilian sacrifice that could occur in a war".
In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army, said the plan to fire "four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets ... to signal a crucial warning to the US" would be ready by "mid-August".
Tension in the region has risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests previous year and two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July, tests it often conducts to coincide with important national dates.
The Marine Corps general is the latest top U.S. foreign policy and security official seeking to scale back Trump's rhetoric and play down the possibility for an imminent armed conflict.
China's official China Daily said such an investigation would poison the relationship between the two countries. "The region and world need and expect China to do more".
"The (Korean) peninsula issue and trade and business issues are in a different category from each other", Hua added. China announced today that it would implement an import ban tomorrow on North Korean iron ore, lead and coal as part of the sanctions.
The move followed the announcement of United Nations sanctions against North Korea this month which have to be enforced within 30 days by member states.