With US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un unwilling or unable to back down from a vitriolic personal stand-off, their countries are at grave risk of a war that nobody wants, analysts say.
The US has "not declared war" on North Korea, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday, dismissing as "absurd" North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho's statement to that effect in New York that morning.
"Our goal is still the same: Peaceful denuclearisation of North Korea through maximum diplomatic and economic measures," she said.
Mr Ri, however, told reporters that since the US has declared war, his country has every right to take countermeasures, including shooting down American warplanes outside North Korean airspace.
The statement confirmed the forebodings of many analysts in the United States.
"The way to bring Kim to his knees is bankrupting him instead of threatening him or belittling him," Dr Lee Sung Yoon, professor of Korean studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, told The Straits Times.
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