Korea Tensions Ease Slightly as US Officials Play Down War Risks

Defense Minister N. Korean Strike against Guam Unlikely

Dunford to meet with S. Korean president amid threat from North

China is telling the USA and North Korea to "hit the brakes" on threatening words and actions and work toward a peaceful resolution of their dispute, in a sign of growing concern over the standoff on the part of Pyongyang's only major ally.

The adviser visited the U.S. in June and attended leaders summits in North Korea in 2000 and 2007.

The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a cycle of military tensions since the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice.

China is North Korea's main economic partner and political backer, although relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have deteriorated amid the North's continuing defiance of China's calls for restraint.

The isolated country's military also said it was finalizing plans to fire four missiles into the waters off Guam, a Pacific island that hosts 7,000 military personnel and has a population of about 160,000. He added that various ministries have been fine-tuning the details of increasing basic pension payouts and child care benefits, which will be released in the near future.

Financial markets regard North Korea's recent provocations and tensions between Pyongyang and Washington as more serious than in the past, South Korea's finance minister said on Monday.

Yesterday James Mattis, the USA defence secretary, said it would be "game on" if North Korea fired a missile that hit American territory.

A South Korean presidential adviser criticised Donald Trump's escalating North Korea threats, exposing a potential rift with a key ally in the firing line if war breaks out. The South Korean capital, Seoul, is just 125 miles south of the North Korean capital Pyongyang.

During an inspection of the army's Strategic Forces, which handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a "close and careful plan" and said he would watch the "foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said. "Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" he wrote.

Regarding the government's plans, announced last week, to expand basic livelihood support, Kim said that the costs were already reflected in the comprehensive national policy agenda's budget.

"I am certain the United States will respond to the current situation calmly and responsibly in a stance that is equal to ours", he said in opening remarks at a meeting with senior aides.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster took a similar tack to Pompeo, declaring that Trump's threats were simply to remove any "ambiguity" about what to expect if Pyongyang continued to threaten the US. A miscalculation on either side could lead to military confrontation.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon called Monday for a peaceful solution to the nuclear standoff, saying "there must not be another war on the Korean Peninsula", according to her office. He said no USA military action on the Korean Peninsula could be taken without Seoul's consent.

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