President Trump Tells North Korea's Kim He'll Regret Any Action - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

President Trump Tells North Korea's Kim He'll Regret Any Action

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Courtesy of AP Courtesy of AP

President Donald Trump says North Korea's leader will "regret it fast" if he threatens or acts against Guam, or any other U.S. territory or ally.

Trump says tens of millions of Americans support his tough position on North Korea's nuclear threat.

Following days of grave threats to North Korea, Trump directed his latest warning Friday directly to the communist country's leader, Kim Jong Un.

The Trump administration has been quietly engaged in back-channel diplomacy with North Korea for months.

The Associated Press has learned the U.S. has used the channel to try to address the fate of Americans imprisoned in the communist country and deteriorating relations between the long-time foes.

The interactions could point to a level of pragmatism in the Trump administration's approach to the North Korean nuclear threat, despite the president's dire warnings.

Meanwhile escalating exchange of provocative rhetoric between the United States and North Korea is alarming international leaders.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, estimated the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea as "very high," and said Moscow is deeply concerned.

Japan has started deploying land-based Patriot interceptors after North Korea threatened to send ballistic missiles flying over western Japan and landing near Guam.

Earlier, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" if North Korea acts "unwisely," escalating an exchange of threats between the nuclear-armed nations.

American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month that North Korea. Pyongyang claims the exercises are a rehearsal for war, and has laid out plans to strike near the U.S. territory of Guam.

Trump tweeted Friday: "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" His tweet caps off a week of war rhetoric that has alarmed international leaders.

"I don't see a military solution and I don't think it's called for," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea. She called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue.

"I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer," she added.

Despite tensions and talk of war, life on the streets of the North Korean capital Pyongyang remains calm. There are no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as was the case during previous crises. At a park in central Pyongyang Friday evening, young people practiced volleyball and grandparents and parents watched children on climbing frames and swings.

North Koreans have lived for decades with the state media message that war is imminent, the U.S. is to blame and their country is ready to defend itself. State-run media ensure that the population gets the North Korean side of the story, but don't convey any sense of international concern about the situation.

One 81-year-old resident, Ri Chong Song, says he's still going dancing in the park, a common pastime for the elderly, because he's confident that his country will survive.

Young graduate Choe Kyong Song says North Koreans don't want war, but then went on to repeat the kind of bold rhetoric that authorities favor - the idea that any conflict with the U.S. would result in North Korean victory and the reunification of Korea.

Two days after North Korea laid out its plans to strike near Guam with unsettling specificity, there was no observable march toward combat. U.S. officials said there was no major movement of U.S. military assets to the region, nor were there signs Pyongyang was actively preparing for war.

As it is, the U.S. has a robust military presence in the region, including six B-1 bombers in Guam and Air Force fighter jet units in South Korea, plus other assets across the Pacific Ocean and in the skies above. U.S. military options range from nothing to a full-on conventional assault by air, sea and ground forces. Any order by the president could be executed quickly.

The U.S.-South Korea exercises are an annual event, but they come as Pyongyang says it is readying a plan to fire off four Hwasong-12 missiles toward the tiny island, which is U.S. territory and major military hub. The plan would be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval just before or as the U.S.-South Korea drills begin.

Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run from Aug. 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. Washington and Seoul say the exercises are defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.

The exercises were scheduled well before tensions began to rise over Trump's increasingly fiery rhetoric and North Korea's announcement of the missile plan, which if carried out would be its most provocative launch yet. Along with a bigger set of maneuvers held every spring, the exercises are routinely met by strong condemnation and threats of countermeasures from North Korea.

The heightened military activity on the peninsula this time is a concern because it could increase the possibility of a mishap or an overreaction of some sort by either side that could spin into a more serious escalation. North Korea has been increasingly sensitive to the exercises lately because they reportedly include training for "decapitation strikes" to kill Kim Jong Un and his top lieutenants.

Pyongyang is also switching its propaganda machine into high gear by bringing in a large number of foreign journalists to ensure it gets global attention for an event next week in honor of its ruling Kim family on Mount Paektu, a dormant volcano that straddles the Chinese border and is something of a spiritual home for the regime.

Defense officials in Seoul confirmed that the exercises are expected to begin without any delays, but refused to provide further details. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian involves about 40,000 troops, along with civilian South Korean government personnel who train their civil defense responses.

The possibility of escalation is made even more acute by the lack of any means of official communication across the Demilitarized Zone, though there has been no easing of the barrage of inflammatory comments in the U.S. and the North since new sanctions against North Korea were announced last week.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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