UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. – Justin Trudeau avoided being drawn into the tit-for-tat threats between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea, pointing instead to signs that diplomacy might prevail in a nuclear standoff that has the countries trading insults.
Canada’s prime minister said he spoke this week with the South Korean president about possible solutions to the standoff, notably by working with China. There were indeed signs Thursday of a bolstered Chinese role, via economic measures.
What Trudeau wouldn’t do was comment on the threats — Kim Jong Un called U.S. President Donald Trump “deranged” on Thursday, and said he would “pay dearly” for talking about “totally destroy(ing)” the country, in a speech where Trump also dubbed the North Korean leader, “Rocket Man.”
“As always I will pay close attention to what our American friends and neighbours have to say. … But it’s not my job to opine,” Trudeau said when asked by journalists about the earlier Trump comments.
“It is my job to ensure that we maintain a good relationship with the United States — particularly as we renegotiate NAFTA. And also that Canada stays focused on de-escalating the situation … through diplomatic means.”
There were signs of that non-military force being ramped up Thursday.
Trump escalated pressure with an executive order that punishes companies that do business with North Korea, forcing them to choose whether they want to do commerce with the superpower U.S. or the so-called Hermit Kingdom.
He also relayed some apparently big news: “I’m very proud to tell you that … China, their central bank, has told their other banks — that’s a massive banking system — to immediately stop doing business with North Korea. This just happened,” Trump said, citing reports.
The young North Korean leader offered a bitter late-day riposte.
Kim insulted the U.S. president as deranged, unfit for high office, he warned Trump would pay dearly for his threats, and he called Trump “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.”
Kim said he is, “thinking hard” about his response, in a statement carried by the state news agency
Trudeau was asked whether he thinks this is empty insult-flinging between two perennial adversary nations — or a true emerging security crisis, with the risk of devastating consequences.
“I think the situation in North Korea is extremely serious,” Trudeau replied.
“The North Korean regime represents a threat to not just regional security, but global peace,” he said. “The reckless behaviour, pronouncements and the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea represents something that all countries in the world should be seized with and concerned about.”