Invoking an alliance with South Korea “forged in the crucible of war,” President Donald Trump warned the nuclear-armed North Korean regime “not to underestimate us” and called on all nations to “deny it any form of support, supply or acceptance.”
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“I hope I speak not only for our countries but for all civilized nations when I say to the North, do not underestimate us and do not try us,” Trump warned Wednesday in a sweeping address before the South Korean National Assembly.
“All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea — to deny it any form of support, supply or acceptance,” Trump said. “The longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become.”
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Just 35 miles from the North Korea, Trump directly addressed its dictator, Kim Jong Un.
“The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger,” Trump said. “North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.”
The Associated PressPresident Donald Trump arrives with first lady Melania Trump before he speaks at the South Korean National Assembly, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Seoul, South Korea. Trump is on a five country trip through Asia traveling to Japan, South Korea, China,
Trump, who in recent days expressed openness to a deal with North Korea, said he remains open to a negotiation but only if “complete and verifiable denuclearization” is on the table.
“We will not be intimidated,” Trump said. “And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here on the ground we fought and died so hard to secure.”
He added, “If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times.”
Trump painted a picture of horrific living conditions under Kim — a “twisted regime” he called a “cult” — describing torture and abuse and harrowing attempts to escape.
He accused China and Russia, two financial benefactors of North Korea, for being complicit in the regime’s abuses.
The Associated PressPresident Donald Trump, center, and first lady Melania Trump, center left, arrive at the South Korean National Assembly, Wednesday, November, 8, 2017, in Seoul, South Korea.
“To those nations that choose to ignore this threat or, worse still, to enable it,” Trump said, “the weight of this crisis is on your conscience.” He urged all countries to sever formal diplomatic relations with North Korea and end trade and technological ties.
Administration officials have been optimistic that Trump’s approach — starkly different from his predecessors’, at least rhetorically — may force the Kim regime to improve its behavior and avoid the disastrous last resort of military conflict.
On Monday in South Korea, Trump suggested he could “make a deal” with the regime, urging North Korea to “come to the table,” but would not say whether he still believes direct talks are a waste of time.
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In addition, there is significant political pressure to relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters last week the administration is considering it.
“That’s an option that’s under consideration. The president’s Cabinet is looking at this as part of the overall strategy on North Korea,” McMaster said.
A senior administration official told ABC News that conversations are “ongoing” and “fluid” as to when to make the announcement, adding, “It’s a matter of when rather than if.”
In his first trip to East Asia as president, Trump went from South Korea to China, where he is expected to confront President Xi Jinping over North Korea, seeking concrete commitments that Beijing will do more to crack down.
“In the end, we will work things out far better than anyone understands or can appreciate,” Trump said in his South Korea speech.