Korean official blames Trump for region's 'vicious cycle'

State Department spokesman Mark Toner also said during a Thursday briefing that the administration remains concerned about North Korea.

Speaking at an afternoon event at the White House, Trump said frankly, "North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of".

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Han's remarks on the North's readiness to conduct a nuclear test and even go to war reveal the "true colors of North Korea's government that is bellicose and a breaker of regulations".

"The army and people of the DPRK will as ever courageously counter those who encroach upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and will always mercilessly ravage all provocative options of the US with Korean-style toughest counteraction".

Tensions in the Korean Peninsula are increasingly on edge this week as North Korea prepares to celebrate the birthday of Kim Il-sung, its founding father, on Saturday.

"We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, and economic measures in response to the North Korean regime's continued provocations".

North Korea's vice foreign minister says President Donald Trump's policy toward the country is more "vicious and aggressive" than President Barack Obama's. "No one can become a victor", Wang told reporters at a news conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

At the same time, speculation is growing that Pyongyang may be close to conducting more nuclear or missile tests, despite a raft of worldwide sanctions punishing it over its nuclear weapons program.

This year's joint war games between the USA and South Korean militaries are the biggest ever; the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier has been diverted back to the waters off Korea after heading for Australia; and US satellite imagery suggests the North could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.

Together, Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un are a toxic combination of insular, inexperienced leadership, and a desire to appear strong at home. "Washington does not fear North Korea, and another nuclear test increases the likelihood that the US will use military force".

Xi stressed that China "advocates resolving problems through peaceful means", Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported - a warning against the use of force by the United States.

Han cited Trump's tweets as problematic, as well as the USA military's participation in exercises with South Korea and an aircraft carrier's move to the region.

Mr Trump and China's president discussed North Korea at a meeting last week in Florida.

Many experts believe that at its current pace of testing, North Korea could reach that potentially game-changing milestone within a few years - under Trump's watch as president.

North Korea also has a history of connecting landmark construction projects to important political dates.

  • Jon Douglas