US citizen detained by North Korea as Japanese ships join war games

University teacher Tony Kim held at airport while trying to leave country, as Trump calls Chinese and Japanese leaders and White House briefing is planned

Amid rising tensions between North Korea and the US, Pyongyang has detained a US citizen, officials said on Sunday, bringing to three the number of Americans now being held in the country.

As two Japanese navy ships joined a US carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, North Korea threatened to sink a US aircraft carrier.

Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike, the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Norths ruling Workers party, said in a commentary.

The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a gross animal and said a strike on it would be an actual example to show our militarys force. The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about leader Kim Jong-un inspecting a pig farm.

President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the Norths nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the US and its Asian allies.

The US has not specified where the carrier strike group is. Vice-President Mike Pence, who recently visited South Korea on a Pacific tour, said on Saturday the ships would arrive within days but gave no other details.

North Korea has also threatened Australia, where Pence was on Saturday and Sunday, with a nuclear strike if it continues blindly and zealously toeing the US line.

Speaking on a visit to Greece, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, appealed for calm. We need to issue peaceful and rational sounds, he said, according to a statement issued by Chinas foreign ministry.

Trump was scheduled to speak to President Xi Jinping of China and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan later on Sunday, a White House official told Reuters.

The official also said the White House was expected to host senators for a briefing on North Korea on Wednesday. The official said the briefing would be led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Marine general Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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