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16th Feb 2019

EU calls for dialogue in US-North Korea nuclear row

  • Donald Trump warned that North Korea would "face fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it threatens the US with ballistic missiles. (Photo: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The EU reacted cautiously on Wednesday (9 August) to US threats against North Korea, calling for dialogue and stressing Korean responsibility in the escalating tension.

The situation is "of great concern to the EU as it is for the rest of international community," European Commission foreign affairs spokeswoman Catherine Ray told journalists.

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On Tuesday evening, US president Donald Trump warned that North Korea would "face fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it threatens the US with ballistic missiles.

Trump's warning came after North Korea recently tested intercontinental missiles and reportedly achieved miniaturisation of nuclear warheads.

North Korea replied that that it considered bombing Guam, a US island in the Pacific with an important military base.

Ray insisted that "lasting peace and denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula must be achieved through peaceful means" and that "this excludes military action."

But she insisted on EU's condemnation of North Korea's "outright violation" of its international obligations and said Pyongyang must "refrain from any further provocative action that could increase regional and global tensions."

"The EU will continue to put pressure on DPRK," she said, using the acronym for Democratic Popular Republic of Korea, the official name of the communist dictatorship.

The EU spokeswoman said that the EU "expects" North Korea "to engage in credible and meaningful dialogue," and that the EU is "ready to support such dialogue."

She added that EU's high representative, Federica Mogherini, held several bilateral meetings about the issue at a summit of Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including with the foreign ministers of the US, China, Russia and South Korea.

On Wednesday, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said that Trump wanted to "send a message" to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to help him "avoid any miscalculation" about US intentions.

He added that there wasn't "any immediate threat" and that "Americans should sleep well at night."

Trump himself said on Twitter that he hoped that "we will never have to use this [nuclear] power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!"

Wednesday marks the 72nd anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki by the US on 9 August 1945, three days after Hiroshima was also bombed.

In Paris, the French government spokesman, Christophe Castaner, said that Trump expressed a "determination" that "all US presidents would have had, because they cannot accept that a part of their territory can be targeted by nuclear ballistic missiles."

But he added that the France was "preoccupied" by the situation and called on "on all sides to act responsibly."

In Berlin, a foreign ministry spokesman said that the German government was watching the "increasing rhetorical escalation … with the greatest concern" and called "on all sides to use restraint."

He insisted that a "military option" could not be "the answer in the quest for a nuclear weapon-free" Korean peninsula.

Meanwhile, European markets were losing ground amid concerns over the situation. In the early afternoon, London's FTSE index was down 0.6 percent, Frankfurt's Dax down 1.16 percent and Paris's Cac down 1.46 percent.

Juncker keen to build EU 'bridge' to Trump

The European Commission wants to “build bridges” between the EU and the US amid the negative fallout from last week’s meetings, it has said.

Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore

The German chancellor said Europe must take its fate into its own hands in the era of Brexit and Trump, in a speech aimed at rallying support in Germany for her re-election.

Opinion

North Korea: time to put the 'E' in engagement

Brussels now has a chance to enhance the EU's reputation in East Asia. South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha meets EU foreign ministers on Monday.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

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