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Chinese president speaks with Trump, urges calm

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the North Korea crisis (all times EDT):

12:35 a.m.

Chinese state media say President Xi Jinping, in a call with President Donald Trump, said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

China Central Television on Saturday cited Xi as saying that Beijing and Washington are both interested in the denuclearization of the peninsula.

The report quotes Xi as saying: “At present, the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

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11:55 p.m.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he will do everything he can to protect the Japanese people as tensions escalate over North Korean plans to send missiles flying over Japan toward Guam.

Abe says: “I will do everything, to the best of my ability, to protect the safety and property of the Japanese people.”

He made comments Saturday while visiting his father’s tomb in his ancestral hometown of Nagato in western Japan.

On Friday, the Defense Ministry said it was deploying four of Japan’s surface-to-air Patriot interceptors in western Japan to respond to a possible risk of fragments falling from missiles.

The ministry did not confirm whether Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has already issued an order to shoot down incoming missiles.

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10:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has issued fresh threats of swift and forceful retaliation against nuclear North Korea, declaring the U.S. military “locked and loaded” and warning that the communist country’s leader “will regret it fast” if he takes any action against U.S. territories or allies.

The president appeared to draw another red line that would trigger a U.S. attack against North Korea and “big, big trouble” for its leader, Kim Jong Un. Trump’s comments, however, do not appear to be backed by significant military mobilization on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remains open.

Asked Firday if the U.S. was going to war, he said cryptically, “I think you know the answer to that.”

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4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not speak for the U.S. on North Korea.

Merkel has said of Trump’s provocative warnings to the communist nation that “escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer.”

Trump on Friday replied: “Let her speak for Germany,” adding, “She’s certainly not referring to the United States.”

The U.S. president’s warnings that Pyongyang will “regret” any threats or action against the U.S. are a break with the diplomatic language of his predecessors. But Trump said Friday that millions of Americans support their president “sticking up” for the U.S. and its allies.

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3:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his critics are only complaining about his tough rhetoric on North Korea “because it’s me.”

He says days of grave threats to the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, would be welcomed as “a great statement” if “somebody else” uttered them.

Trump adds that millions of Americans support his words because “finally we have a president that’s sticking up for our nation and frankly sticking up for our friends and our allies.”

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3:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says North Korea’s leader will “regret it fast” if he threatens or acts against Guam, or any other U.S. territory or ally.

Trump says tens of millions of Americans support his tough position on North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Following days of grave threats to North Korea, Trump directed his latest warning Friday directly to the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

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1:10 p.m.

An escalating exchange of provocative rhetoric between the United States and North Korea is alarming international leaders. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, estimated the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea as “very high,” and said Moscow is deeply concerned.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea. She called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue.

Japan has started deploying land-based Patriot interceptors after North Korea threatened to send ballistic missiles flying over western Japan and landing near Guam.

Meanwhile, American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month that North Korea claims are a rehearsal for war.

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12:45 p.m.

A Democratic congressman is urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to reconvene the House from its summer recess to consider legislation prohibiting a pre-emptive nuclear strike against North Korea.

Rep. David Cicilline (sihs-ihl-EE’-nee) of Rhode Island, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says that in light of President Donald Trump’s “reckless words” threatening North Korea, the House should immediately take up legislation barring a pre-emptive nuclear strike without prior congressional authorization.

Cicilline said Trump “has made a dangerous situation even worse by recklessly asserting that the United States is ‘locked and loaded’ to bring ‘fire and fury’ to North Korea.”

Cicilline said Trump’s bellicose language against North Korea has raised alarms around the world, adding that “if the president will not defuse this situation, then Congress must.”

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11:20 a.m.

Japan has started deploying land-based Patriot interceptors after North Korea threatened to send ballistic missiles flying over western Japan and landing near Guam.

The Defense Ministry said Friday the PAC-3 surface-to-air interceptors are being deployed at four locations: Hiroshima, Kochi, Shimane and Ehime.

The deployment is largely aimed at responding to the risk of falling fragments while missiles fly over the region.

The four PAC-3 systems are brought from eastern Japan, as its missile defense is largely centered around Tokyo. They are expected to arrive in the designated sites early Saturday.

The ministry did not confirm whether Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has already issued an order to shoot down incoming missiles.

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9:35 a.m.

Russia’s foreign minister says the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea is “very high.”

Sergey Lavrov said Friday that Russia is strongly worried about escalating rhetoric coming from Pyongyang and Washington. He added that “when it comes close to fight, the one who is stronger and wiser should be the first to step back from the brink.”

Asked how Moscow would act in case of a military conflict between the U.S. and the North, Lavrov answered it would do everything it could to prevent the worst-case scenario.

Lavrov said Russia doesn’t accept the North’s nuclear weapons bid and pointed at a proposal by China and Russia under which Pyongyang would freeze its nuclear and missile tests while the U.S. and South Korea would halt their military drills.

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9:15 a.m.

Despite tensions and talk of war, life on the streets of the North Korean capital Pyongyang remains calm.

There are no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as was the case during previous crises. State-run media ensures that the population gets the North Korean side of the story, but doesn’t convey any sense of international concern about the situation.

North Koreans have lived for decades with the state media message that war is imminent, the U.S. is to blame and their country is ready to defend itself.

At a park in central Pyongyang Friday evening, young people practiced volleyball and grandparents and parents watched children on climbing frames and swings.

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9 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she doesn’t see a military solution to rising tensions between the United States and North Korea and called for a de-escalation of the rhetoric.

Asked Friday about U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest statements, Merkel declined to say whether Germany would stand with the U.S. in case of a military conflict with North Korea. She said, “I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for.”

Merkel called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue. She says Germany would work to find diplomatic solutions with the countries involved, the U.S. and China in particular, but also South Korea.

She added: “I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer.”

Earlier this week, Trump said the U.S. would slam the North with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it provoked America again.

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8 a.m.

President Donald Trump is warning of military action “should North Korea act unwisely.”

Trump tweeted: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. If carried out, it would be its most provocative missile launch to date.

Trump said this week the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to threaten the U.S.



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