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Time for statesmanship

Aug 12,2017 - Last updated at Aug 12,2017

It is one thing for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to order the testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and quite another to threaten to strike Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific Ocean.

Upping the ante is the last thing the world needs now. The overblown reaction by Pyongyang to last week's UN Security Council resolution applying stiffer sanctions against it also led US President Donald Trump to overreact by threatening North Korea with "fire and fury" should it dare to take aim at Guam, where the US maintains a huge military base .

Both Trump and Kim must tone down the rhetoric and give diplomacy a chance to work out the differences.

Still, the mere threat of striking Guam with missiles perhaps loaded with a miniature nuclear warhead goes beyond all reason and must be abandoned immediately by the leadership of North Korea. 

The escalation in rhetoric between the two countries has led President Trump to warn Pyongyang that he now has in place operational plans to attack North Korea should it dare attack Guam.

No matter which side needs now to blink first, the two countries need to think twice before taking additional provocative steps.

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis got it right when he said in the wake of the recent escalation of tensions that despite the fiery rhetoric, diplomacy must still be given a chance to find a solution that both sides can live with, with honour.

Mattis cautioned that all-out hostilities between the two nuclear countries would be catastrophic, leading to wide destruction and a great number of casualties.

Mattis' voice of reason and restraint is what is most needed now, since a single miscalculation could unleash a nuclear confrontation.

There are enough flashpoints across the globe already, and the international community cannot afford to have one more, especially at this scale.

 

Now is the time for statesmanship and cool-headed diplomacy on all sides.

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