North Korea 'behaving very badly,' China not helping

He said 20 years of USA diplomatic and other efforts to get North Korea to denuclearize have failed, but gave no specifics about how the Trump administration, which is now doing a policy review, would tackle the issue.

But he also stressed the importance of three-way cooperation with South Korea, calling it "critical in particular as we address North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, traveling with just one conservative member of the press, has cut his trip to South Korea short, citing "fatigue." China has done little to help!"he tweeted on Friday morning".

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told the joint news conference the missile system was only meant to defend against North Korea, not any other country.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is using a three-country trip to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing this week to line up America's current allies, Japan and South Korea, behind Washington's preparations for an economic and potentially military confrontation against North Korea and also China.

"North Korea and its people need not fear the US or their neighbors in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea", Tillerson said.

Thomas Karako, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that after so many years of failed diplomacy, it's inevitable the US would consider more aggressive steps like military action.

Tillerson and Yun met for about an hour following the news conference to discuss the THAAD deployment and Pyongyang's nuclear development, among other topics.

North Korea caused global outrage in 2006 when it carried out its first underground atomic test.

He also urged Beijing to drop any retaliatory action against South Korea, amid allegations businesses and the tourism industry is being punished for Seoul's stance on the issue. Tillerson scoffed at the USA expense for trying to entice North Korea to drop its nuclear program - $1.35 billion by his count. Tillerson did permit a member of conservative website IJR to attend him, but she appears not to have published any reports on the SoS's actions.

Former members of the Clinton administration have said that the US considered a strike on a North Korean nuclear facility in 1994 when it appeared on the brink of producing weapons-grade fissile material and refused United Nations inspections. China remains the North's most powerful ally.

There, the now deploying a controversial missile interception system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), which could be halted by South Korea's next leader.

Japan has been on edge over North Korean launches since a mid-range ballistic missile flew without warning over the northern part of the country and into the western Pacific in 1998.

"The joint military exercises by the hostile forces are aimed at preemptive strikes against the DPRK", North Korean Embassy official Pak Myong-ho said, referring to the official name of his country, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. He further sounded skeptical about the idea of negotiating a freeze that would leave the North with "significant capabilities" that could threaten the region and USA forces.

More broadly, Tillerson poured cold water on the idea of resuming negotiations with Pyongyang, saying, "20 years of talks with North Korea have brought us to where we are today". For another, the Trump administration is pushing for vastly larger spending at the Pentagon, apparently in anticipation of new military operations.

  • Salvatore Jensen