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(LEAD) N. Korea says it too will use force against U.S. if necessary

All Headlines 22:27 December 04, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from 4th para)

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Wednesday lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump for hinting at the use of force against the communist state, saying it too will take "prompt" measures if necessary.

"One thing I would like to make clear is that the use of armed forces is not the privilege of the U.S. only," Pak Jong Chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, said in a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.

"Anyone can guess with what action the DPRK will answer if the U.S. undertakes military actions against the DPRK," said the statement. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The statement came hours after Trump said Washington could use force if it must while attending the NATO summit in Britain.

"Now we have the most powerful military we've ever had and we're by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully, we don't have to use it, but if we do, we'll use it. If we have to, we'll do it," Trump said, urging North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un to honor their agreement to denuclearize.

Trump and Kim met twice in Singapore and Vietnam, but the U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks have stalled since their Vietnam summit ended without a deal.

The North Korean official said Kim himself was "displeased" to hear Trump's latest remarks, and insisted the only thing preventing a physical conflict between the countries was the close relations between their leaders.

"I think the only guarantee that deters physical conflict from flaring up in relations between the DPRK and the U.S. despite such a dangerous military stand-off is the close relations between the top leaders of the DPRK and the U.S.," Pak said in his statement.

"I clearly state here that if the U.S. uses any armed forces against the DPRK, we will also take prompt corresponding actions at any level," he added.

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