Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in London at the annual summit of NATO leaders, U.S. President Donald Trump revived the threat of military action against North Korea, as negotiations remain in limbo over how to match the North's denuclearization steps with U.S. concessions.
Touting the strength of the U.S. military, Trump said all options are on the table.
"Now we have the most powerful military we've ever had and we're by far the most powerful country in the world. And hopefully we don't have to use it. But if we do, we'll use it. If we have to, we'll do it."
President Trump had threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea in 2017, when tensions were sky high over the regime's testing of nuclear weapons and ICBMs.
However on Tuesday, Trump emphasized the close personal relationship he has formed with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, adding he hopes Kim will follow through with his commitment to dismantle his regime's nuclear weapons program.
Trump also touched upon the defense cost sharing negotiations with South Korea, saying Seoul should shoulder more of the cost of stationing U.S. troops on the peninsula.
He said South Korea has agreed to pay an extra 500 million dollars a year for U.S. "protection", adding Washington now wants additional commitments.
"Now in the meantime, we're working with South Korea because it's burden-sharing, and we're spending a tremendous amount of money to protect South Korea, and we think that it's fair that they pay substantially more. Last year, I asked them to pay more and they agreed. Nobody knows this. I'll say it now I think for the first time, but they agreed to pay approximately 500 million dollars a year more for protection."
President Trump's comments come as Seoul and Washington are currently holding their fourth round of defense cost-sharing talks, in a bid to reach a compromise before the end of the year.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.