The U.S.’s top general plans to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday, just days after his counterpart Donald Trump said military options against North Korea were “locked and loaded.”
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with senior military officials along with Moon, according to an official with South Korea’s Blue House who asked not to be identified. He will head to China next on the previously scheduled visit, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing an unidentified military official.
Dunford’s Asia visit comes as fears grow that a war of words between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will lead to a miscalculation that sparks an actual military conflict. In a call with Trump on Saturday in Asia, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to maintain restraint and avoid inflammatory comments.
The U.S. Pacific Command referred all questions on Dunford’s schedule to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nobody at the office picked up the phone after regular working hours. A tweet from the joint chiefs on Sunday showed him arriving at Yokota Air Base in Japan.
The U.S. hasn’t taken any public steps to prepare for hostilities such as evacuating Americans from Seoul, which is within range of North Korean artillery, or moving ships, aircraft or troops into position for an imminent response. The U.S. has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.
Following Trump’s vow to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea, Kim’s regime threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan into waters near Guam, home to U.S. military bases in the region. The U.S. and its allies warned Kim against such a move, and Japan deployed four Patriot missile interceptors into the western part of the country.
Some analysts expect further escalation in the coming days as both North and South Korea celebrate…