North Korea wants to “end the world” and is playing a dangerous game which could have catastrophic results.
That’s the view of the outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte who warned the US, Japan, South Korea and even China against antagonising someone “who’s excited about firing missiles”.
Duterte, who is renowned for his blunt approach, has also urged the US to proceed with caution and patience when it comes to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
And he said US President Donald Trump shouldn’t play into Kim’s hands.
“There seems to be two countries playing with their toys and those toys are not really to entertain,” he told a news conference after the ASEAN summit in Manila on Saturday.
“You know that they are playing with somebody who relishes letting go of missiles and everything.
“I would not want to go into his mind because I really do not know what’s inside but he’s putting mother Earth, the planet to an edge.”
Duterte said the tensions and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions were extremely worrying and one miscalculation of a missile or warhead could be catastrophic.
“Who am I to say that you should stop? But I would say ‘Mr President, please see to it that there is no war because my region will suffer immensely’,” Duterte said.
“I will just communicate to (Trump), ‘just let him play … do not play into his hands’.”
“The guy (Jong Un) simply wants to end the world, that is why he is very happy. He is always smiling. But he really wants to finish everything and he wants to drag us all down.”
Duterte’s stark warming comes as Trump called his Filipino counterpart and reiterated Washington’s commitment to their treaty alliance.
Filipino Presidential spokesman Ernie Abella said Trump mentioned he was looking forward to visiting the Philippines in November to attend an East Asia summit that Duterte will host with several world leaders.
He also confirmed Trump invited Duterte to visit the White House.
“The discussion that transpired between the presidents was warm, with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine president, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs,” Mr Abella said in a statement.
Abella’s remarks reflect the friendlier attitude Duterte has taken with Trump as opposed to the antagonistic stance he had toward President Barack Obama, who he once asked to “go to hell” for criticising his anti-drug crackdown.
Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said friendlier ties are needed now more than ever despite concerns over Duterte’s human rights record, which includes extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and suspects.
“The purpose of this call is all about North Korea,” Priebus told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.
“It doesn’t mean that human rights don’t matter.”
Trump also spoke to the prime ministers of Thailand and Singapore in separate phone calls about the North Korean threat and invited both of them to Washington.
It follows similar calls with China and Japan last week.
Priebus said co-operation at some level was needed with as many partners in the area “to make sure that we have our ducks in a row.”
Priebus said the conversations were prompted by the “potential for nuclear and massive destruction in Asia” and eventually in the US.
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