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Trump provides "conceptual approval" for South Korea to purchase U.S. military weapons

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart spoke on the phone Monday morning for the first time since North Korea boasted of another nuclear test.

Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to remove the limit on the payload of South Korean missiles as part of the countries' response to the North's move on Sunday, South Korea's presidential office said in a statement. The North claimed it had detonated a hydrogen bomb underground.

"The two leaders agreed to maximize pressure on North Korea using all means at their disposal," the White House said in a statement. "They also pledged to strengthen joint military capabilities.  President Trump gave his in-principle approval to South Korea's initiative to lift restrictions on their missile payload capabilities.  President Trump also provided his conceptual approval for the purchase of many billions of dollars' worth of military weapons and equipment from the United States by South Korea."

Both leaders also agreed that the latest test was a grave provocation that was "unprecedented."

The phone call came as the U.N. Security Council was holding its second emergency meeting in a week on the subject. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Sunday said the U.S. will answer any threat from the North with a "massive military response."

Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with the response of other countries to North Korean provocations. Over the weekend, he threatened to halt all trade with countries doing business with the North, a veiled warning to China, and faulted South Korea for its "talk of appeasement."

Trump is also considering triggering a withdrawal from a free trade agreement with South Korea, a business lobbying group said Saturday, raising concerns about a move that could cause a fresh economic rift between allies at a moment of heightened tensions with a common foe.

The president also spoke to Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, according to a readout released by the White House. The two leaders spoke about the situation regarding North Korea. 

"The two leaders condemned North Korea's continued reckless and dangerous behavior and reaffirmed the importance of close coordination at the United Nations. President Trump noted that this latest provocation only serves to increase the international community's resolve to counter North Korea's prohibited activities," the White House said. "All options to address the North Korean threat are on the table."

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