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Trump, Abe: North Korean Missile Program ‘Grave, Growing’ Threat

U.S. President Donald Trump (right) meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Italy in May.
U.S. President Donald Trump (right) meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Italy in May.

The White House says President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have called North Korea’s banned missile program a “grave and growing” threat.

In a phone call on July 30, the two leaders pledged to intensify economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang after its latest test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Trump and Abe “agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other countries near and far," the White House statement said.

"President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, and to convincing other countries to follow suit," the statement continued.

"President Trump reaffirmed our ironclad commitment to defend Japan and the Republic of Korea from any attack, using the full range of United States capabilities."

Abe earlier said he told Trump that Japan would pursue specific steps to bolster its defense capabilities and that the U.S. leader pledged to "take all necessary measures to protect" Japan.

"International society, including Russia and China, need to take this seriously and increase pressure," Abe told reporters.

Earlier on July 30, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said there was "no point" to conduct an emergency Security Council session on North Korea's latest missile launch.

Nikki Haley said another weak council resolution would be "worse than nothing" in light of the North's repeated violations of UN sanctions against its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

"There is no point in having an emergency session if it produces nothing of consequence," Haley said in a statement.

"In fact, it is worse than nothing, because it sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him," Haley said.

Haley also stepped up the pressure on China, North Korea's main ally, saying it "must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step. The time for talk is over."

North Korea on July 28 carried out a test launch of an ICBM and said it was now capable of reaching the U.S. mainland with nuclear weapons.

Current UN resolutions ban North Korea from developing any ballistic missile-related and nuclear technology, but the rogue nation has continued to push forward with its military programs.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP