USA has been conducting back-channel talks with North Korea for months

President warns North Korea that US is `locked and loaded'

Trump responded to that development by threatening to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea if it continued to threaten the U.S. Since then, Trump has exchanged threats with North Korea, which said Wednesday that its military would have plans in place by mid-August to attack waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.

Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Washington, D.C. -based Stimson Center, argued North Korea would not need intercontinental ballistic missiles to strike South Korea, whose capital sits just 35 miles from the border.

Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday that U.S. "military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely".

The White House said that Trump and Xi agreed during their call that North Korea must stop provocative behavior, reiterating their mutual commitment to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, tells ABC's "This Week" that "we're not closer to war than a week ago, but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago".

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"And I think there's a much greater danger if there were to be any kind of degree of ambiguity in connection with the kind of response that Kim Jong Un could expect if he were to threaten the United States or our allies".

According to the source, the talks are being held between Ambassador Joseph Yun, the US special representative for North Korea policy, and Pak Song Il, a senior North Korean diplomat at the country's United Nations mission, using what's known as the "New York channel", which has been an avenue of communication between the USA and North Korea throughout the years. USA officials then told NBC that Washington has a plan for a preemptive strike on North Korean missile sites with bombers stationed in Guam, should Trump order it.

Trump has also insisted that "nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump".

McMaster also said while poised militarily, the USA is exploring other avenues to confront the threat from Kim's weapons program. They may continue launching missile tests but they don't want a war, and the US doesn't want military action either. He added that China and North Korea understand that Trump "is actually prepared to use military force - credibility that prior administrations simply lacked".

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