Trump, Rajoy united against North Korea actions, Catalonia referendum

By Sara Shayanian and Danielle Haynes  |  Updated Sept. 26, 2017 at 3:01 PM
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Sept. 26 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy held a joint press conference Tuesday and during it condemned threats from North Korea and a planned independence referendum in Catalonia.

Trump again shared strong words against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang said it would reserve "the right to shoot [U.S. bombers] down" if they flying into the country's airspace.

Trump said the U.S. government is "totally prepared" for taking a military option against North Korea should it do so.

"It will be devastating, I can tell you that, devastating for North Korea," Trump said. "If we have to take [the military option] we will."

He said Kim is "acting very badly."

"He's saying things that should never ever be said."

Trump said the problems with North Korea should have been handled by previous administrations, which he said "left me a mess."

Rajoy said Spain would support any political situation that would put an end to aggression by North Korea.

"No one wishes for there to be a war anywhere in the world," Rajoy said. "Recent events in North Korea ... mean that we all have to be forceful and those who defend democracy ... have to let North Korea know it isn't going anywhere."

Rajoy said the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also is a threat to democracy and encouraged U.N. sanctions against the country.

"It's important that there be an international coalition putting pressure on Maduro because this attack against human rights and freedoms come in conjunction with a terrible economic situation," he said. "It's a really tragic situation and I think that we have ... a responsibility toward Venezuela."

Meanwhile, Rajoy said he believes rule of law, common sense and dialogue will prevail in Catalonia's planned independence referendum. He called the vote "noise, but certainly there can be a valid democratic referendum."

"The only thing it is doing is generating division and tension," he said.

Trump said he thinks Spain should remain united and that a vote would likely show that the people there would be opposed to an independent Catalonia because "they love their country."

On the home front, Trump expressed sympathy for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in recent weeks. He said Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló offered praise for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's efforts on the island.

The president said he wasn't preoccupied by the NFL anthem protests over the weekend as Puerto Rico recovered from the natural disasters.

"I was ashamed of what was taking place," he said of football players kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality against black Americans. "To me that was a very important moment. I don think you can disrespect our flag, our national anthem."

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