US to North Korea: Refrain from ‘provocative’ actions

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meets with his military officers. (file photo)

The United States has asked North Korea “to refrain from provocative” actions amid rising tensions between the two countries.

"We call on [North Korea] to refrain from provocative, destabilizing actions and rhetoric, and to make the strategic choice to fulfill its international obligations and commitments and return to serious talks," US Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said on Monday.

"North Korea's unlawful weapons programs represent a clear, grave threat to US national security,” he added.

The statement came a day after North Korea threatened to sink an American aircraft carrier that President Donald Trump is sending to the western Pacific Ocean.

"Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike," North Korea's ruling Workers' Party's newspaper said in a commentary on Sunday.

The article said Pyongyang had weaponry that “can reach continental US and Asia Pacific region.”

The USS Carl Vinson is currently conducting exercises with two Japanese destroyers in the Philippines Sea.

Last week, President Trump called on China to rein in North Korea.

"China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea so, while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will," he tweeted.

Trump discusses North Korea with Xi, Abe

US President Donald Trump

On Sunday, Trump spoke on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss the North Korean issue.

After the phone call with Trump, Abe told reporters Monday that he and Trump had agreed to keep close contact on North Korea. He appreciated Trump’s stance of keeping “all options on the table” regarding Pyongyang.

The Trump administration has several times warned that all options, including a military strike, were being considered to halt Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear activities.

"The North Korean nuclear and missile problem is an extremely serious security threat to not only the international community but also our country," Abe told reporters.

Xi, the Chinese president, told his American counterpart during the telephone call that all sides had to exercise restraint.

China has opposed any move that runs counter to the UN Security Council resolutions already in place against North Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Tensions have increased between North Korea and the US in recent weeks. The US has been unnerved by North Korea’s advancing missile and nuclear programs and has dispatched a military strike group to the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has said it is ready for war.

The prospects of a potential military confrontation have made regional countries worried.

North Korea has threatened the US with “all-out war” and announced that Pyongyang would continue to test missiles on a weekly basis.

Pyongyang says its missile and nuclear programs act as deterrence against a potential invasion by its adversaries, particularly the US.

The US has military forces in South Korea on a permanent basis, and routinely threatens the North with military action.

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