At a briefing Thursday to mark his 100th day in office, Moon insisted there will be no second Korean war but urged the North to stop further nuclear and missile tests, warning Pyongyang to end its "dangerous gamble". The United States and South Korea remain technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. The heated exchange led to concerns that the USA and North Korea were moving towards nuclear war, especially when Trump warned that the US armed forces are "locked and loaded" for a potential conflict.
Since then the North and Trump have locked horns in fiery exchanges, with Trump saying on Friday that U.S. troops were "locked and loaded" in case a military solution became necessary.
Any conflict between the North and the United States could have devastating consequences for Asia's fourth-largest economy, with Seoul within range of Pyongyang's vast conventional artillery forces.
But Moon said Seoul effectively had a veto on military action by the United States, its security ally and protector.
Relations between the two were "an absolute fail", it added, saying that while Moon spoke of dialogue and implementing North-South agreements, his actions moved in the opposite direction.
Dunford is visiting South Korea, Japan and China after a week in which Trump declared the USA military "locked and loaded" and said he was ready to unleash "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to threaten the United States. "North Korea is nearing the red line", he said without elaborating on the consequences of crossing it.
Moon's comments about averting war echoed similar statements he made Tuesday that only South Korea could give consent to initiate any conflict with the North. But his efforts have so far been met with a string of threats and missile tests as the North works to build nuclear-armed missiles that can reach the US mainland.
"To me, the economic war with China is everything".
"We're all looking to get out of this situation without a war", Dunford said, even as he stressed Pyongyang possessing nuclear weapons that threaten the United States and its regional allies is "unacceptable".
Kim's comments, however, with their conditional tone, seemed to hold out the possibility that friction could ease if the United States made some sort of gesture that Pyongyang considered a move to back away from previous "extremely unsafe reckless actions". "We should take the initiative in solving the problem on the Korean Peninsula".
Suh again highlighted doubts about North Korea's claims about its military capability. Japanese and South Korean jets have escorted the bombers at times. "It was an issue that we did not know back then", he said.
The annual drills antagonize Pyongyang which see the exercises as practice for an invasion, however the US and South Korea maintain they are purely defensive.
Moon said the North will face tougher sanctions if it stages another provocation.
Pinkston said calls to reduce or suspend joint exercises are mistaken, and risk increasing rather than reducing the threat from North Korea.
During an inspection of the North Korean army's Strategic Forces, which handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a "close and careful plan" and said he would watch the "foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said.