Trump says US will ‘take care of’ North Korean launch

Democrats cancel meeting with US president aimed at avoiding government shutdown

US president Donald Trump issues a stark warning to North Korea after Pyongyang launched its latest missile, pledging that the US will “take care of it”. Video: Reuters

 

US president Donald Trump issued a stark warning to North Korea after Pyongyang launched its latest missile, pledging that the US would “take care of it”.

Speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room in the White House after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan, Mr Trump said that it would not change the US strategy towards North Korea. “It is a situation that we will handle,” he said.

His comments came as North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from Sain-ni at around 3am local time – the first missile launch since mid-September.

The missile travelled east for about 1,000km before landing in the sea just west of Japan. It reached a higher altitude than previous launches according to the Pentagon.

While it did not pose any threat to US territories, a spokesman for the Pentagon said: “Our commitment to the defence of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad. We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”

Roadblock

The development took place as efforts to avoid a government shutdown in December hit a roadblock after Democrats cancelled a meeting with Mr Trump scheduled for Tuesday.

The top Democrats in the House and the Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, announced that they would not attend the meeting after the president tweeted on Tuesday that he didn’t “see a deal”.

Mr Trump had invited top Republican and Democrat members of Congress to the White House to discuss ways to extend government funding in order to avert a government shutdown on December 9th. But in a joint statement Mr Schumer and Ms Pelosi said: “Given that the president doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead.”

Earlier, Mr Trump had suggested that disagreements with Democrats about immigration, crime and taxes could block a deal. Republicans are seeking extra funding for defence spending.

“Meeting with ‘Chuck and Nancy’ today about keeping government open and working,” Trump wrote.

“Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don’t see a deal.”

The White House said the decision by Democrats not to attend was “disappointing” and criticised their “pettiness” and “political grandstanding”. Mr Trump appeared before the media in the Roosevelt Room alongside two empty chairs that were supposed to have been filled by the two top Congressional senators.

Senate majority Mitch McConnell accused the two Democrats of “a lack of seriousness” about the federal government funding issue. “I never refused to go to a meeting that president [Barack] Obama called,” he told reporters as he left for the White House.

Meanwhile, efforts to progress the Republican tax reform plan advanced on Tuesday, as the senate budget committee voted in favour of the Bill, paving the way for a full vote on the Senate floor as early as Thursday.

Mr Trump travelled to Capitol Hill earlier in the day to rally support among Republicans for the Bill, participating in an hour-long lunch meeting with senators. The White House welcomed the vote as “an important step toward passing historic tax relief,” predicting agreement by the end of the year.

Though the Senate budget committee vote is an important boost for the Republican leadership, at least half a dozen Republican senators are still uncommitted to the proposal, with several senators calling for more measures to help small businesses.

With Republicans controlling 52 seats of the 100-seat Senate they can only afford to lose two Republican votes, with vice-president Mike Pence holding a casting vote. If the Bill passes this week, negotiations will commence with the House, which passed its own version on November 16th, about a final agreement, with the aim of securing full sign-off by Christmas.