A cardboard cutout of US President Donald Trump is shown during a during a protest outside the White House against escalating threats of military action in North Korea on Thursday in Washington, DC. Recent reports of advances in North Korean nuclear technology and escalating verbal threats between North Korea and the US have dominated the news for the past few days. Photo: CFP
US President Donald Trump on Friday once again upped the ante in his war of words with North Korea, warning Pyongyang that the US military is "locked and loaded" in the event of a misstep by Pyongyang, despite mounting international calls for restraint.
Ignoring appeals from China for restraint, Trump launched another rhetorical salvo at Pyongyang to keep its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in check.
The latest Twitter threat from the Republican billionaire leader came as concerns swelled worldwide that a miscalculation by either side could trigger a catastrophic conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong-un will find another path!" Trump wrote from his golf club retreat in New Jersey, where he is spending two weeks.
Earlier on Friday, China had urged both the US and North Korea to tone down the saber-rattling.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang called on both sides to avoid "relapse into the old path of showing assertiveness and escalating tensions."
"The Chinese side hopes all relevant parties to speak and act with caution and do more things that are conducive to de-escalating the tense situation and enhancing mutual trust among parties," Geng said in a statement.
China has repeatedly called for a resumption of long-dormant Six-Party Talks to peacefully resolve the mounting tensions.
China's has proposed North Korea to suspend its weapons programs in exchange for a suspension of military drills by the US and South Korea - seen by Pyongyang as provocative.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that risks of a military conflict over North Korea's nuclear program are very high and Moscow is deeply worried by the threats from Washington and Pyongyang.
Lavrov encouraged Pyongyang and Washington to sign up to a joint Chinese-Russian plan, under which North Korea would freeze its missile tests and the US and South Korea would impose a moratorium on large-scale military exercises.
Trump has progressively ramped up the tone throughout the week - after brandishing a threat of unleashing "fire and fury" on North Korea, he said Thursday maybe that statement "wasn't tough enough."
He also warned Pyongyang it should be "very, very nervous" of the consequences if it even thinks of attacking US soil, after North Korea said it was readying plans to launch missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam.