Duterte Warns Trump: "That Guy Kim Simply Wants To End The World"
In a rare comment on the deteriorating North Korean situation, outspoken Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte urged the US to show restraint after North Korea's latest missile test and to avoid playing into the hands of leader Kim Jong Un, who "wants to end the world". The notoriously blunt Duterte said on Saturday that the Southeast Asia region was extremely worried about tensions between the United States and North Korea, and said one misstep would be a "catastrophe" and Asia would be the first victim of a nuclear war.
"There seems to be two countries playing with their toys and those toys are not really to entertain," the president said quoted by Reuters during a news conference after the ASEAN summit in Manila, referring to Washington and Pyongyang. “One miscalculation of a missile, whether or not a nuclear warhead or an ordinary bomb, one explosion there that would hit somebody would cause a catastrophe."
Duterte also warned the United States, Japan, South Korea and China that they are sparring with a man who was excited about the prospect of firing missiles. Duterte's speech, which was delivered in his capacity as chairman of ASEAN, was due to speak by telephone to U.S. President Donald Trump later on Saturday. He said he would urge Trump not to get into a confrontation with Kim.
"You know that they are playing with somebody who relishes letting go of missiles and everything. I would not want to go into his (Kim's) mind because I really do not know what's inside but he's putting mother earth, the planet to an edge."
Ahead of his phone call with the US president, Duterte appealed to Trump saying it was incumbent upon the US as the a responsible country to not rise to Kim's provocations. He said he was sure Trump had cautioned his military not to allow the situation to spiral out of control; what Duterte may have ignored is that it may be precisely Trump's intent to provoke Kim into a first move, giving the US a carte blanche to retaliate. "Who am I to say that you should stop? But I would say 'Mr. President, please see to it that there is no war because my region will suffer immensely'," Duterte said. "I will just communicate to (Trump), 'just let him play... do not play into his hands'."
He added: "The guy (Kim) simply wants to end the world, that is why he is very happy. He is always smiling. But he really wants to finish everything and he wants to drag us all down."
Ironically, Duterte has joined China and Russia in pleading with the leaders of North Korea and the U.S. to tone down their nuclear brinksmanship, even as he agreed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that negotiations to end the standoff would be useless.