- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

President Trump said Tuesday it “makes sense” for North Korea to negotiate with the U.S. about its nuclear weapons and missile programs, as the U.S. Navy prepares for a major show of force in the tense region.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Seoul with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Mr. Trump said “we hope to God we never have to use” military force against Pyongyang. But he added that he is prepared to do whatever was necessary “to prevent the North Korean dictator from threatening lives … so needlessly.”

“We cannot allow North Korea to threaten all that we have built,” Mr. Trump said on the first day of a two-day visit to South Korea.

Shortly after the president arrived in the country Tuesday, U.S. officials announced the Navy is moving three aircraft carrier groups and a submarine to the region.

The drill — involving the USS Nimitz, the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Theodore Roosevelt — follows joint exercises by the U.S, Australian and South Korean navies simulating the interception of shipments of nuclear material to North Korea.

“I think we’re showing great strength,” Mr. Trump said. “We sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world [to the Korean Peninsula], and a nuclear submarine is also positioned.”

He added, “With that being said, I really believe it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea.”

“I do see some movement,” Mr. Trump said, declining to elaborate.

In 2009, North Korea walked out of six-party talks involving China, the U.S., North and South Korea, Japan, and Russia. A year later, Pyongyang revealed a vast new uranium enrichment facility.

North Korean officials told CNN that the Trump administration increasingly is taking action that could “ignite another Korean War.”

“Nobody knows when and how the ‘war maniac’ Trump will ignite the ‘wick of war,’ ” the officials said, referring to the presence of the carriers near the peninsula.

Mr. Moon said he hopes that Mr. Trump’s 12-day visit to the region, including stops in Japan and China, “will serve as an opportunity to relieve some of the anxiety that the Korean people have due to North Korea’s provocations, and also serve as a turning point in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.”

Earlier, Mr. Trump had lunch with U.S. troops at Camp Humphreys, the largest U.S. military base in South Korea. He expressed optimism that his efforts will succeed in reducing tensions on the peninsula.

“I think ultimately it will all work out, it always works out, it has to work out,” Mr. Trump said. “I think we’re going to have lots of good answers for you over a period of time.”

North Korea conducted a nuclear test in September, and has launched at least 15 missile tests this year in defiance of U.N. resolutions. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Mr. Trump have exchanged insults for months.

The president commended Mr. Moon for South Korea’s defense spending.

“Your military is becoming very strong,” Mr. Trump said. “Our military is now going to be, very soon, at the strongest level. We’re committed to spending $700 billion, and that number may even go up. We make the finest equipment in the world, and you’re buying a lot of it, and we appreciate that.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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