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Trump: US 'locked and loaded' against North Korea

US president hopes Kim Jong-un will find 'another path' after his government threatens to target US territory of Guam.

Korean Peninsula

US President Donald Trump is hardening his stand against North Korea in an escalating war of words, warning that military solutions are now "locked and loaded" if the country acts "unwisely".

In his latest post on social media on Friday, Trump wrote that he hopes "North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would find another path", after threatening earlier this week to target the US territory of Guam.

It was the latest in a volley of rhetoric which has prompted fears of a breakout of war in the Korean Peninsula.

Defence officials and military analysts say any new conflict with North Korea would likely escalate to the use of nuclear weapons, bringing catastrophic casualties not seen since World War II. 

On Thursday, Trump said that "maybe" his statement to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea "wasn't tough enough".

He said the communist state had been "getting away with a tragedy that can't be allowed".

"They've been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years, and it's about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries," he warned.

Earlier, North Korea's state media said "only absolute force can work" on Trump.

On Friday, a Chinese state-run media suggested China would "stay neutral" if North Korea strikes first in a conflict with the US, despite a mutual defence pact with North Korea. 

China - which has been accused by the US of not doing enough to rein in its long-time ally - has maintained that political dialogue is the only solution.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected a military solution to the North Korean crisis and called for an end to the escalation in language between the US and North Korea.

"An escalation of the language is for me the wrong response," she said on Friday.

"I also don't see a military solution [to the conflict] and do not consider it necessary."

Instead, Merkel called for all sides to the crisis, including the US, South Korea and Japan to work closely together with the UN.

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