Seoul : South Korean President Moon Jae-In called on Monday for calm in the standoff with North Korea, saying there should never be another war on the peninsula.
Tensions have flared since US President Donald Trump, responding to the North’s latest missile tests, warned it of “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
The North in turn threatened to test-fire its missiles towards the US Pacific island of Guam. The war of words has sparked global alarm, with world leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping urging calm on both sides.
Moon, a left-leaning leader who has previously advocated dialogue with the North, urged it to “stop all provocations and hostile rhetoric immediately, instead of worsening the situation any further”. He also indirectly urged the US — the South’s key ally and security guarantor — to resolve the crisis peacefully.
“Our top priority is the national interest of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and our national interest lies in peace,” Moon told advisers in a meeting.
“We cannot have a war on the Korean peninsula ever again,” he said. The 1950-53 conflict cost more than a million lives, left cities in ruins and perpetuated the division of the peninsula.
“I am confident that the US will respond to the current situation in a calm and responsible manner in line with our policy direction,” Moon said.
Moon on Monday also met General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is visiting Seoul as part of a trip which will also include China and Japan.
Dunford said in the meeting that the US would only consider military action against North Korea if all diplomatic and economic sanctions failed.