Moon Urges N. Korea to Stop ICBM Provocations, Return to Talks

Moon Urges N. Korea to Stop ICBM Provocations, Return to Talks

CIA Director Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY'-oh) says North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un (kim jawng oon), is "rational" despite the behavior he's shown during escalating tensions with the United States.

North Korea has snubbed offers for talks from President Moon Jae-in, the South's first liberal leader in a decade. 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.

North Korea, meanwhile, has threatened to lob four intermediate-range missiles into the waters near Guam, a tiny USA territory about 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from Pyongyang, North Korea's capital.

With few options at his command, Moon has been encouraging Washington to talk directly to Pyongyang to resolve differences, according to senior officials and advisers to the president.

The comments come after Trump over the past week intensified his rhetoric against North Korea.

Washington is insistent on maximizing economic sanctions and keeping up pressure on the North to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The war of words between Mr Trump and North Korea prompted world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to urge restraint on both sides.

"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.

But there seems little likelihood of dialogue at this point.

"The effect from North Korea-related jitters on financial and foreign exchange markets has been causing some global anxiety and we cannot rule out market volatility can widen from the smallest shock", Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said. President Trump's bellicose threats to rain "fire and fury" on Pyongyang should it threaten American interests in the region have only fueled such tensions in recent weeks.

The new president also sought to put an end to a longstanding debate over when the country was founded, saying the country will mark the 100th anniversary of its foundation in 2019.

North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the U.S. territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

"The message today was the ironclad commitment to the alliance", Dunford said following a meeting with top South Korean defense officials. "We listen very carefully to Kim Jong Un's rhetoric and we can't afford to be complacent". The Seoul metropolitan area is home to 25 million people. He said on Thursday that the USA works closely with its allies to ensure that any military response wouldn't be unilateral, warning that the impact of a conflict "would be catastrophic".

He filled his national security team with several key players of that time, naming them to the posts of prime minister, spy chief and unification minister.

The annual exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian begins next week and, he said, as a matter of course it draws condemnation from North Korea. "So I hear the voices not just of the Americans who are here, but the voices of the South Koreans", he said.

The tests are seen as a milestone in the North's quest to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

In a meeting with top aides at the presidential Blue House, Moon said South Korea would work to safeguard peace on the peninsula in cooperation with the United States and other countries.