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North Korea is “looking for trouble” and the US is prepared to act unilaterally on the issue, with or without China’s support, Donald Trump said on Tuesday*, as the new administration solidifies its much tougher stance on the Asian country.

The US president said on Twitter that “if China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!”, appending “USA” to the end of his message.

Mr Trump’s aggressive tone on North Korea, and his move earlier in the week to deploy and aircraft carrier group to the Korean peninsula, represent a marked step-up to the American response to the government of Kim Jong-un, which is rapidly developing its nuclear and missile programmes.

However, the businessman turned politician’s insistence that the US would act if needed without China’s support could prompt escalating tensions with China, the region’s biggest power that has supported Mr Jong-un’s regime.

*This post has been amended to correct the day to Tuesday.

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