President Barack Obama said the time has come for North Korea to end its “belligerent approach” and vowed the U.S. would defend its interests and those of its allies in the region.
Obama told reporters before a meeting today with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the North Korean regime should “lower temperatures” of its rhetoric to avoid a conflict on the Korean peninsula.
“The U.S. will take all necessary steps to protect its people and to meet our obligations under our alliances in the region,” Obama said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Asia to reassure allies South Korea and Japan and seek help from new Chinese President Xi Jinping in trying to defuse tensions with North Korea.
The region has been on edge since February over a North Korean nuclear weapons test, threats of war and visible preparations for a missile launch or another nuclear test.
The regime headed by Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s supreme leader since his father’s December 2011 death, has threatened to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against its enemies.
Ban said he commended Obama for the administration’s “measured response” to the crisis so far.