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Trump’s Bombastic UNGA Address Reproached

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson took a swipe at Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea, saying “No one in their right minds wants to see the US driven to use its military options. I do not see any good military options”
US President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York,  on September 19.US President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York,  on September 19.

US President Donald Trump’s controversial United Nations speech—in which he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and described the Iran 2015 nuclear deal as “one-sided and an embarrassment to the United States”— was condemned by European allies and cheered by rightwing hardliners in the Mideast.

 “We are not there yet with North Korea,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters, adding diplomacy should precede any military action in the peninsula. “And that’s why I believe today that it would be counterproductive to use that argument, to put [the military option] on the table as a possible immediate response,” news outlets reported.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson took a swipe at Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea, saying that “no one in their right minds wants to see the US driven to use its military options.”

He warned “going in too hard will cause a catastrophe” and added bluntly: “I do not see any good military options.”

In its customary response, China called for calm, saying that “the situation in the peninsula is still in a complicated and sensitive situation,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We hope that the relevant parties will exercise restraint and take some correct action to help ease the tension...and to create the necessary conditions for getting back to the track of negotiation of the peninsula nuclear issue soon,” it said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ambassador Haley right after the address to the Assembly. “We spoke generally about our support for the collective strategy of diplomatic, political and economical pressure” on North Korea, Bishop told a gaggle of reporters.

“The last thing anybody wants is for there to be a conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” she said, adding Trump also “made it quite clear that the consequence of that would be catastrophic.”

  Wrong Speech in Wrong Place

But when asked directly about Trump’s assertion that “rocket man [Kim Jong-Un] is on a suicidal mission,” she answered diplomatically, “I think the focus should be on North Korea’s behavior, rather than on the way the president may or may not describe it.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Walltrom told the BBC, “It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.”

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel expressed surprise over the “harsh” and “dangerous” language used by the bombastic Trump during his UNGA speech.

Michel told Belgian broadcaster VRT on Wednesday that “this is harsh language. I am not certain that this approach is effective and will contribute to world peace.” “I believe that we should move to de-escalation, because the issue here is a sensitive one,” he said, adding “I think that it is better not to play with fire.”

Michel noted that Belgium is for a different approach and wants to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang.

But not everyone was appalled by Trump’s UN appearance. “Saudis and other Mid-Easterners, Israel and maybe some Asians loved it, but most Europeans hated it,” an Arab diplomat neatly summed Trump’s speech.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister and former UN ambassador, Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech.”

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a statement on Wednesday, “We view the speech as portraying a firm and specific stance on the key issues regarding keeping peace and safety that the international community and the United Nations are faced with,”

“It clearly showed how seriously the United States government views North Korea’s nuclear program as the president spent an unusual amount of time discussing the issue,” the presidential Blue House’s statement said.

US ally Japan, which Pyongyang often threatens to destroy, took a consistently hard line on North Korea, pushing for increased sanctions and pressure.

“We greatly appreciate President Trump’s approach to changing North Korea’s policy stance, denuclearizing the country and calling on the international community, including China and Russia, for their cooperation toward strengthening pressure on North Korea,” chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters.

 ’Internet Meltdown’

Twitter exploded with memes and jokes over White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s face-palming reaction to Trump’s speech.

Sitting right behind First Lady Melania Trump, Kelly, once dubbed the Beacon of Discipline by the New York Times, was spotted putting his left hand over his head while the US commander in chief was addressing the 193-nation body.

Photos of the White House chief of staff’s frustrated reaction immediately went viral online resulting in a flurry of tweets.

This isn’t the first time the White House chief of staff looked upset during a Trump speech, though.

He reacted in a similar fashion last month when Trump told reporters that there were bad guys “on both sides” of the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead and injured dozens of others.

 

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