Trump to Kim: You won't be around for long

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Rhetoric between the US and N. Korea escalates amid rising tensions

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS US President Donald Trump dialled up the rhetoric against North Korea again at the weekend, warning the country's foreign minister that he and leader Kim Jong Un "won't be around much longer", as Pyongyang staged a major anti-US rally.

North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after "Mr Evil President" Trump called Pyongyang's leader a "rocket man" on a suicide mission.

"Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!" Mr Trump tweeted late on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Analysts say the escalation in rhetoric is increasing the risk of a miscalculation by one side or the other that could have massive repercussions.

North Korea's state-run television KRT aired a video yesterday showing tens of thousands of people attending an anti-US rally at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

The North's official KCNA news agency said more than 100,000 people gathered for the rally on Saturday and delivered speeches supporting comments made by Mr Kim earlier in the week. "We are waiting for the right time to have a final battle with the US, the evil empire, and to remove the US from the world," KCNA quoted Mr Ri Il Bae, a commanding officer of the Red Guards, as saying.

"Once respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un gives an order, we will annihilate the group of aggressors."

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on Sept 3, prompting another round of UN sanctions. Pyongyang said last Friday that it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

"It is only a forlorn hope to consider any chance that the DPRK (North Korea) would be shaken an inch or change its stance due to the harsher sanctions by the hostile forces," Mr Ri told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighters flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force.

The US bombers' flight was the furthest north of the demilitarised zone separating North and South Korea that any US fighter jet or bomber had flown in the 21st century, the Pentagon said.

The patrols came after officials and experts said a small earthquake near North Korea's nuclear test site on Saturday was probably not man-made, easing fears Pyongyang had exploded another nuclear bomb just weeks after its previous one.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that the US would not carry out a strike on North Korea because it knows Pyongyang has nuclear bombs, AFP reported.

Mr Lavrov said the crisis can only be resolved with a softer approach.

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