North Korea Threatens 'Merciless Punishment' On US After Trump's 'Foolish Remarks'

Trump's five-country Asia trip begins, Putin meeting confirmed

A key US ally, South Korea is home to more than 50 million people.

Tensions are high after the North's sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September, along with a series of ballistic missile launches in recent months.

The US administration is considering putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism amid growing demands from several US senators, who had mandated a congressional deadline for the State Department to take a decision.

All 18 individuals on which the South Korean sanctions were imposed were directly affiliated to North Korean banks. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship.

However, with North Korea expected to be on top of the agenda, tensions are rising in South Korea ahead of Trump's visit.

Against this backdrop, the government has chimed in, calling for cooperation and public support for the first successful state visit of a US president in over two decades.

"No nation should ever underestimate American resolve", said Trump, who never once mentioned the name, North Korea.

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The amount of casualties would differ depending on the advance warning and the ability of United States and South Korea forces to counter these attacks, he said. But look what's happened with very weak rhetoric over the last 25 years.

Addressing the US military personnel stationed at the Japanese air base, Trump warned "no one, no dictator, no regime. should underestimate American resolve".

During the state visit, South Koreans are also bracing for the possibility that Trump will renew his criticism of Moon over his support for diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang - something the US president once called "appeasement" - and will again threaten to pull out of a free trade pact between the two countries.

When asked on the timing of the announcement, government officials denied it was tied to Trump's visit to Seoul.

The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.

Both Trump and South Korea's liberal President Moon Jae-in agree that it's time to ramp up sanctions and pressure on North Korea, which has ignored global condemnation as it moves forward with its nuclear and missile tests.

The exercises, according to US Forces Korea, are created to "highlight the longstanding military partnership" between the two countries and improve stability and security on the Korean Peninsula.

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