Print Edition - 2017-08-13 | World
Trump ramps up Guam assurances over NKorea threat
Aug 13, 2017-President Donald Trump on Saturday reassured Guam it was secure amid mounting regional tensions, vowing that American military forces “stand ready” to safeguard the US Pacific island territory against a belligerent North Korea.
With Guam’s safety in the balance, Trump assured the territory’s Governor Eddie Calvo: “We are with you 1000 percent, you are safe.”
A member of Trump’s Republican Party, Calvo insisted during the two men’s call that “I have never felt more safe or so confident with you at the helm,” according to his office.
“We’re going to do a great job, don’t worry about a thing,” Trump then added. “They should have had me eight years ago, or somebody with my thought process.”
Trump has warned the North that it would “truly regret” attacking the US, and that the US military is “locked and loaded.” Earlier this week, he threatened “fire
The North’s official KCNA news service, for its part, accused Trump in an editorial of “driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war,” calling the US “the heinous nuclear war fanatic.”
Key Pyongyang ally Beijing, meanwhile, has pleaded with Trump to tone down his rhetoric to prevent tensions from boiling over.
Tourism officials are jumping on the unusually high attention to the territory as an opportunity to attract more visitors to the island of 162,000 people that draws more than 1.5 million tourists a year.
“The circumstances are unfortunate but this is a good opportunity for us to educate the world about Guam and our culture, about where we are, and who we are,” Guam Visitors Bureau marketing director Josh Tyquiengco told AFP.
“Guam is more than a military base. We are a safe family destination. We reassure potential visitors that we continue to be a safe... place to visit.” He said there had only been a few booking cancellations from South Korea.
And island dwellers say they fear a powerful typhoon more than the wrath of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Kim Jong-un is as crazy as typhoons but I am more scared of typhoons because they are real threats,” said Rolando Zepeda, 57, a teacher at Saint Anthony’s School.
Calvo, who noted that this is not the first time North Korea has threatened the island, bluntly told Guam residents to simply conduct their daily business “as usual.”
Guam hosts two US military installations and 6,000 US soldiers—making it an attractive target for the North.
“United States forces stand ready to ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam, along with the rest of America,” the White House said in a summary of Trump’s call with Calvo.
In an earlier call, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Calvo: “We are all over this... The wonderful island of Guam is very well protected.”
Pyongyang has said it would take less than 18 minutes for a missile to cross the 3,400-km distance to the US territory.
In addition to the US military bases, Guam is also equipped with the sophisticated THAAD weapons system which is capable of destroying intermediate-range
missiles in the final phase of flight.
Officials, however, have sought to brush off fears and say there has been no change in the threat level for now.
Xi to Trump: Avoid exacerbating tensions
BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping urged US President Donald Trump in a phone call on Saturday to avoid “words and deeds” that would “exacerbate” the already-tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, state television reported.
Xi also called on “relevant parties to maintain restraint” and to “persist in the general direction of dialogue, negotiations and a political settlement”, CCTV said. Xi stressed that “China and the US have a common interest in realising the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
Beijing has been voicing some alarm at the growing war of words between Washington and Pyongyang, which included a warning from Trump that North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it kept threatening the US
Published: 13-08-2017 10:26