Trump: North Korea threats to boost Guam tourism
HAGATNA, Guam — If there’s one thing that Guam does not have to worry about while the tiny island is in the nuclear cross hairs of North Korea, it’s tourism, President Trump told the island’s governor in a phone call made public on Saturday.
The threat by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to create “an enveloping fire” around the tiny United States territory in the Western Pacific will bolster Guam tourism “tenfold,” Trump said in the recorded conversation with Gov. Eddie Calvo.
The recording was put on the Republican governor’s Facebook page and other social media accounts.
Trump said: “I have to tell you, you have become extremely famous all over the world. They are talking about Guam; and they’re talking about you.”
And when it comes to tourism, he added, “I can say this: You’re going to go up, like, tenfold with the expenditure of no money.”
Calvo agreed: “It’s a paradise. We got 95 percent occupancy and after all this stuff calms down, we’re going to have 110 percent occupancy.”
The president responded, “You just went to 110, I think.”
Efforts to reach the White House on Saturday for comment were not immediately successful.
Guam’s $5 billion economy is fueled mainly by tourism and the United States military, which occupies about 30 percent of the island and is looking to expand.
The island, roughly the size of Chicago and home to about 160,000 people, is about 3,960 kilometers southeast of North Korea.
The conversation, in which both men praised each other, differed drastically from Trump’s contentious calls with leaders of Australia and Mexico in the early days of his administration.
Transcripts of those calls were leaked this month.
“We are with you 1,000 percent,” Trump said in the call to Calvo, who invited the president to the island. “You are safe. We’re with you 1,000 percent.”
Trump added of Guam: “It just looks like a beautiful place.”
Trump had threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea for any provocation.
Alluding to Kim, he told the governor, “You notice he hasn’t spoken recently. He doesn’t talk so much anymore. We’ll see how it all works out.”
He added: “This is between you and I. But you don’t talk like they talk. You can’t do that. You can’t do that with people like us.”
While Guam has generally been calm about the escalating threats of a missile attack, some were not thrilled by the tone of the conversation between the two men.
“Listening to that call left me feeling disgusted,” said Andrea Nicole Grajek, a local artist from Dededo village.
“I was so shocked I was actually crying. They’re leaders discussing a rise in fame and tourism, while the world is watching our island carefully to see if we’ll still be here tomorrow,” she said.
The threats of possible aggression against Guam—often referred to as the “tip of the spear”—have become a focal point of debate about the presence of US military forces on the island.
Activists who are advocating Guam’s independence from the United States argue that the presence of the military installations has made the island a magnet for attack.
Others contend that the presence of the United States defense system is necessary, given the threats in the region.
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