Trump brushes off critics of tough rhetoric

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WASHINGTON (AP) Developments on Friday, August 11, about the North Korea crisis (all times Eastern Daylight Time).

  • 3:50 p.m.

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

He said 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 added that millions of Americans supported 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.”

  • 3:40 p.m.

Trump said North Korea’s leader will “regret it fast” if he threatened or acted against Guam, or any other U.S. territory or ally.

Trump said 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 directly to the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

  • 1:10 p.m.

An escalating exchange of provocative rhetoric between the United States and North Korea has alarmed 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 was 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 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.

  • 12:45 p.m.

A congressman has been 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, D-R.I., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said 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 language against North Korea has raised alarms around the world, adding that “if the president will not defuse this situation, then Congress must.”

  • 11:20 a.m.

Japan has begun 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 the PAC-3 surface-to-air interceptors are being deployed at four locations: Hiroshima, Kochi, Shimane and Ehime.

The deployment was 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 were expected to arrive in the designated sites early Saturday.

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

  • 9:35 a.m.

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

Sergey Lavrov said that Russia was strongly worried about escalating rhetoric coming from the two countries. 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 the Russian government 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 did not 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.

  • 9:15 a.m.

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

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

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

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

  • 9 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she didn’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 about 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 said Germany would work to find diplomatic solutions with the countries involved, the U.S. and China in particular, but also South Korea.

“I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer,” she added.

  • 8 a.m.

Trump warned 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!”

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