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Trump vows if threatened to 'totally destroy' North Korea

Trump vows if threatened to 'totally destroy' North Korea
From Reuters - September 19, 2017

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump escalated his standoff with North Korea over its nuclear challenge on Tuesday, threatening to totally destroy the country of 26 million people and mocking its leader, Kim Jong Un, as a rocket man.

In a hard-edged speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump offered a grim portrait of a world in peril, adopted a more confrontational approach to solving global challenges from Iran to Venezuela, and gave an unabashed defense of U.S. sovereignty. (here)

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea, Trump told the 193-member world body, sticking closely to a script.

As loud, startled murmurs filled the hall, Trump described Kim in an acid tone, saying, Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime.

His remarks rattled world leaders gathered in the green-marbled U.N. General Assembly hall, where minutes earlier U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for statesmanship, saying: We must not sleepwalk our way into war.

Trumps most direct military threat to attack North Korea,in his debut appearance at the General Assembly, was his latest expression of concern about Pyongyangs repeated launching of ballistic missiles over Japan and underground nuclear tests.

His advisers say he is concerned about North Koreas advances in missile technology and the few means available for a peaceful response without Chinas help.

Inside the hall, one man in the audience covered his face with his hands shortly after Trump made his totally destroy comment. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom crossed her arms.

It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience, Wallstrom later told the BBC.

Trump did not back down, instead tweeting out the line in his speech vowing to destroy North Korea if needed.

A junior North Korean diplomat sat in the delegations front-row seat for Trumps speech, the North Korean U.N. mission said. North Koreas mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In Germany, Chancellor Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would do everything in her power to ensure a diplomatic solution. Anything else would lead to disaster, she told a campaign event ahead of Sundays election.

CABINET CONTRAST

Trumps saber-rattling rhetoric, with the bare-knuckled style he used to win election last November, was in contrast to the comments of some of his own Cabinet members who have stated a preference for a diplomatic solution.

Reaction around the United States was mixed. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, tweeted that Trump, a fellow Republican, gave a strong and needed challenge to U.N. members to confront global challenges.

But Democrat Ed Markey of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee denounced Trumps remarks in a CNN interview, saying the president had yet to exhaust his other options in encouraging Pyongyang to negotiate.

The least we should be able to say is that we tried, we really tried, to avoid a nuclear showdown between our two countries, Markey said.

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