Diplomatic and economic measures taken to rein in North Korea’s missile programme have not had the desired effect, a senior US military commander said on Thursday after the North’s latest test triggered a flurry of calls among world leaders.
US President Donald Trump led calls with leaders and senior officials from Japan and South Korea on Thursday to discuss the latest provocation from Pyongyang, hours before Trump begins a much-anticipated summit with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
“Up to this point I think it is fair to say … that economic and diplomatic efforts have not supported the progress people have been anticipating and looking forward to,” U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said in Tokyo, where he was meeting Japanese Self Defence Force commanders and foreign ministry officials.
North Korea`s nuclear and missile programmes will be high on the agenda when Trump and Xi meet at Trump`s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida later on Thursday, with anger in Beijing simmering over the deployment of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea.
Analysts have said Wednesday`s launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea`s east coast probably took place with the Trump-Xi summit in mind as the reclusive state presses ahead in defiance of United Nations resolutions and sanctions.
In a phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, Trump again said that all options were on the table when it came to North Korea`s continued missile tests.
Swift said a military response remained among those options.
“That decision would be up to the president,” he told reporters. “The military was always an option.”
Tensions on the Korean peninsula and the Trump-Xi summit began to worry markets on Thursday, with the dollar and Wall Street shares slipping.
“The market is only starting to factor in recent developments regarding North Korea, and it now wants to figure out the geopolitical implications of the U.S.-China summit,” said Shusuke Yamada, a senior strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Tokyo.