German Chancellor Angela Merkel says US President Donald Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea is wrong, citing economic pressure and diplomacy as the only "appropriate" ways to resolve the conflict.
“I am against such threats,” Merkel told the Deutsche Welle channel. “We consider any form of military solution as totally inappropriate and we insist on a diplomatic solution.”
“From my point of view sanctions and their implementation are the right answer. But I consider everything else concerning North Korea as wrong,” she added. “And that is why we clearly disagree with the US president."
The German chancellor made the remarks in reaction to Trump’s debut speech at the United Nations General Assembly, where he said Tuesday that the US was ready to destroy the North to resolve the ongoing standoff over the country’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program.
"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," he said.
"It is time for North Korea to realize that its denuclearization is its only responsible future," he added.
The Trump administration has been pushing for greater international pressure on North Korea through the UN and by pressuring China, Pyongyang’s main trade ally.
The pressure peaked in early September, when the North announced that it had successfully exploded a hydrogen bomb, its sixth overall thermonuclear test.
The UN Security Council adopted new sanctions against the North as a result, a move that Pyongyang warned would not go unanswered.
Merkel said in her interview that Germany’s strong ties China, Japan, South Korea and the United States puts it among the few countries that could actually help resolve the North Korea crisis.
"Even if this conflict is far away from Germany, it is one that also affects us," Merkel said. "That is why I am prepared, as is the foreign minister, [Sigmar Gabriel], to assume responsibility here."
Gabriel told Monday's edition of the Bild daily that the world had to wait for the sanctions against North Korea to work.
He also noted that military action was not going to succeed and "a security guarantee other than the nuclear bomb" was needed.