Tillerson: Military action against North Korea an 'option'

"We're exchanging views", Tillerson said, while standing a few feet within what is technically North Korean territory inside what is known as the Joint Security Area. Military action, however, would endanger South Korea and anger China, the two next stops on Tillerson's trip. "We look to China to fulfill its obligations and fully implement the sanctions called for", he told reporters. "The objective of - part of the goal of my visit to the region is to exchange views on a new approach".

Tillerson, however, stressed that cooperation with Japan and South Korea was "critical". It also comes amid a greater sense of urgency about the threat because of North Korea's rapid progress toward developing the means to strike the US with a nuclear-tipped missile.

President Donald Trump's rise to power has raised anxiety in Asian capitals. In a news conference after the annual National People's Congress parliament meeting on Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang said "there are bright prospects for China-US cooperation".

Speaking alongside Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Tillerson recited the long-standing USA demand that the North "abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and refrain from any further provocation".

Tillerson was speaking as he met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on his first trip to Asia as the top US diplomat.

Tillerson will arrive in China on Saturday, March 18, and meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He said the allies had no intention to stand down the exercises that are defensive in nature and conducted transparently, unlike North Korean missile launches.

Koreans will go to the polls on May 9 to choose Park's replacement, after which everyone Tillerson meets with may be out of a job. His aides have said no options, including a possible preemptory military strike against North Korean nuclear facilities, are off the table.

He warned that United States investments in China would bear the brunt of any trade war, and argued: "I believe whatever differences we have, we can still sit down and talk to each other and work together to find solutions". "It's common sense that no one wants to see turbulence at his doorstep".

And he reiterated Washington's vow to back key regional allies Japan and South Korea in the event of attack.

Kim Young-woo, a conservative lawmaker and chairman of the Korean National Assembly's Defense Commission, told CNN that "the whole Korean peninsula is facing a very unsafe situation now". "If relevant sides truly hope to see peace and stability in this region, they should apply the brake and put out the fire, instead of adding fuel to the flame", she told reporters Tuesday, clearly intending to exclude China from her list of "relevant parties". The New York Times reported on Wednesday he will warn Chinese officials that the United States would increase missile defenses in the region and target Chinese banks if Beijing does not constrain North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions.

China is perhaps the last country with significant leverage over North Korea, which has ignored several rounds of UN-backed sanctions targeting its banned weapons program.

"This is unfair and groundless", the Global Times protested this week.

Beijing shares United States concerns over Pyongyang's attempts to build an arsenal of nuclear devices, but has also blamed Washington for escalating tensions.

"This is a rather complicated situation".

United States officials have been spooked by North Korea's accelerating progress towards building an intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten U.S. mainland cities.

  • Leroy Wright