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Trump Puts An End to ‘Strategic Patience’ with North Korea

On Monday, President Trump declared that the "era of strategic patience is over" with North Korea. The statement was made in Japan where Trump began his 12-day Asia tour.

Credit: Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg

Credit: Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg

“The regime's continued development of its unlawful weapons programs, including its illegal nuclear tests and outrageous launches of ballistic missiles, directly over Japanese territory, are a threat to the civilized world and international peace and stability. We will not stand for that,” said Trump at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“Some people say my rhetoric is very strong but look what has happened with very weak rhetoric in the last 25 years” he added.

Abe echoed Trump’s words by stating that Japan and the US are in "complete agreement" on dealing with North Korea and agreed that "all options" should remain on the table.

"For more than 20 some years, the international community attempted dialogue with North Korea,” said Abe. "Now is the time not for dialogue but for applying a maximum level of pressure on North Korea."

Credit: Toru Hanai / Reuters

Credit: Toru Hanai / Reuters

Trump did not deny reports that he was frustrated about Japan not shooting down a ballistic missile that North Korea recently fired over its territory. He urged Japan to purchase more weapons from the U.S. to better defend them against the military threat from North Korea.

“[Abe] will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States," said Trump, referring to the North Korean missiles. “The prime minister is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should. And we make the best military equipment by far.”

In an on-the-record briefing, a senior U.S. administration official told media that “the president’s strategy — and this strategy is in complete alignment with our allies: South Korea and Japan and increasingly the entire world — is to maximize pressure.

"It is a diplomatic and economic campaign to maximize pressure on North Korea, to show — really to convince the leadership in North Korea that the one way out for them is to start reducing the threat and to move toward denuclearization."

Meanwhile, Beijing has expressed concerns about the increasingly hawkish approaches of the U.S. and Japan towards North Korea. In response to Abe’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying declared the “situation” in North Korea was “already extremely complex, sensitive and weak."

Hua concluded: “We hope that under the present circumstances, all sides’ words and actions can help reduce tensions and reestablish mutual trust and getting the North Korean nuclear issue back on the correct track of dialogue and negotiations.”