South Korea calls for North's denuclearization before dialogue

With unusual praise, Trump says he could meet Kim Jong Un

The White House says conditions aren't right for President Donald Trump to meet with Korean leader Kim Jong Un despite Trump's openness to that possibility in the future.

"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it", Trump told Bloomberg News in an interview Monday.

South Korea said it is open to dialogue if North Korea moves forward with denuclearization.

North Korea suggested on Monday it will continue its nuclear weapons tests and will bolster its nuclear force "to the maximum" in a "consecutive and successive way at any moment" in the face of what it calls United States aggression and hysteria, Reuters reports.

The president said last week that a "major, major conflict" conflict with North Korea was possible, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has suggested that military action is "on the table".

In an interview with Reuters last week, Trump praised THAAD, saying it was "phenomenal, shoots missiles right out of the sky", but questioned why the United States was paying for it.

North Korea has become the most urgent national security threat and foreign policy issue facing Trump as his first 100 days in office passed. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else.

Trump's suggestion of admiration for Kim, however, is something entirely new.

Also Monday, Spicer defended Trump's decision to extend an invitation for a White House meeting to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has presided over a violent crackdown on drug-related crime that human rights groups say has left more than 7,000 people dead.

"I don't think that the president appreciates the fact that when he says things like that it helps the credibility and the prestige of this really outrageous strongman", referring to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Trump's musings about a potential meeting with Kim were reminiscent of Barack Obama's declaration during his 2008 campaign that he'd be willing to meet without pre-condition with the leaders of North Korea, Iran, Cuba and other nations long at odds with the U.S. Republicans and Obama's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, criticized Obama for that statement.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high for weeks, driven by concerns that the North might conduct its sixth nuclear test in defiance of pressure from the United States and Pyongyang's sole major ally, China.

South Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn called for stronger vigilance because of continuing provocation by Seoul's poor and isolated neighbour.

"Sanctions may exert huge pressure, but the country can hold up and will not give up nuclear development because of them", wrote Fu, who is also a former deputy foreign minister.

President Trump framed the test as a snub to China - the North's largest trading partner - and tweeted: "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today".

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