United States tells North Korea to cease 'destabilizing actions and rhetoric'

Trump has long criticized China when it comes to Pyongyang, stating earlier this month that the U.S. will "solve the problem" of North Korea with or without Beijing's help.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that a North Korean nuclear missile capable of striking the USA would be a "grave threat" and anticipated North Korea could achieve this capability before Trump would begin his second term.

Pyongyang insists it needs a powerful arsenal - including atomic weapons - to protect itself from what it says is the ever-present threat of invasion by hostile USA forces. "China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea so, while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will", Trump tweeted on Friday.

Commenting on the call between the two leaders, the White House said Monday that Trump criticized North Korea's "belligerence" and "destabilizing" actions during the conversation. "I think that they are trying to put the pressure on North Korea, and I think it's working".

Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike, although officials say tougher sanctions are the preferred route.

Trump also spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The US Navy submarine is expected to dock in the port city of Busan, South Korea, on the same day that North Korea celebrates the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army.

Two Japanese destroyers have joined the carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, and South Korea said on Monday it was also in talks about holding joint naval exercises.

As a traditional ally and North Korea's chief source of trade, food and fuel aid, China has come under intense pressure to use its influence to dissuade Pyongyang from additional nuclear tests and missile launches.

The U.S. and its allies are bracing themselves for possible provocations as North Korea gears up for a major national holiday.

The Monday call took place amid speculation that Pyongyang could be planning to hold a sixth nuclear test this week.

Japanese officials say US representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun met Tuesday with his Japanese counterpart Kenji Kanasugi and Kim Hong-kyun of South Korea to share their latest analyses and discuss cooperation.

The U.S. State Department said it was aware of reports that an American had been detained but declined to reveal details. The reasons for the detention of Tony Kim, who taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, weren't immediately clear.

Although Washington has not specified where the vessel is as it approaches the area, US Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday that it would "arrive in days". The South Korean military has been instructed to maintain an "immediate response posture".

A Japanese official said the phone call between Trump and Abe was not prompted by any specific change in the situation.

Representatives from Japan, America and South Korea have convened in Tokyo to discuss North Korea amid growing concern that the country may carry out another nuclear or missile test, an action the U.S. have said would lead to a pre-emptive strike by the USA.

  • Leroy Wright