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President Donald Trump on Thursday again refused to rule out U.S. military action in North Korea, telling reporters that the nuclear-armed dictatorship has been "behaving very badly, and it's got to stop."
"I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it's something certainly that could happen," the president said at a White House press conference with the visiting Emir of Kuwait.
Lauding the recent U.S. military buildup in and around the Korean peninsula, Trump said, "Hopefully we're not going to have to use [military force]. But if we do, it will be a very sad day for North Korea."
U.S. markets did not immediately respond to Trump's latest comments, which were more tempered than some of his recent tweets on the issue.
The comments came just days after North Korea appeared to have tested a hydrogen bomb, sparking renewed fears around the world of what the hermit kingdom might do with such a weapon.
At the time, Trump tweeted a warning to North Korea:
Asked on Thursday whether the United States could tolerate a situation where North Korea retained its nuclear weapons, but was otherwise contained, the president declined to answer: "I don't put my negotiations on the table," he said.