Tillerson To Press China On North Korea In Asia Trip

China has been advocating diplomacy to avoid a conflict on the divided peninsula.

U.S. President Donald Trump made it a hallmark of his campaign to call on allies, including Japan, to pay more for hosting U.S. forces and other elements of American protection.

Tillerson said Thursday that "diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years" have failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

The US has 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea to defend it from the North, but the capital Seoul is within range of Pyongyang's artillery and analysts believe any conflict could risk rapid escalation and heavy casualties.

Tillerson, who had dinner with Trump at the White House on Monday, will fly without the normal press contingent on his plane that has traditionally accompanied US secretaries of state since the days of Henry Kissinger in the 1970s.

At the least, the United States wants China to enforce existing sanctions on North Korea and police what USA officials have said are illicit Chinese business-and-banking deals that benefit the Kim regime and its steadily improving missile-development program.

"America has provided $1.3 billion in assistance (to North Korea) since 1995". Trump said in a message on Twitter.

Tillerson said that strengthening USA relations with Japan and trilateral cooperation among all three "is critical in particular as we address North Korea's nuclear and missile programs".

Asked about the possibility of using military force against North Korea, he said, "all of the options are on the table".

"North Korea and its people need not fear the United States or their neighbors in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea", the secretary of state told a news conference in Tokyo.

"I don't believe we have ever fully achieved the maximum level of action that can be taken under the United Nations security council resolution with full participation of all countries".

Analysts say when it comes to North Korea policy, there are few new options to try. "But what he is trying to show is that Washington is not interested in engaging in dialogue with North Korea". Last year, the North conducted two nuclear test explosions and 24 ballistic missile tests.

In some of his most detailed comments yet on North Korea, Tillerson ruled out a negotiated freeze of its nuclear weapons program and called for a wider alliance to counter Kim Jong Un's regime.

Central to the US review is China and its role in any bid to persuade Pyongyang to change course.

Acting spokesman Mark Toner told reporters this week that efforts to convince China to pressure North Korea were the "looming challenge" in trans-Pacific relations.

The drill did not specify North Korea by name, only referring to a certain "Country X".

The U.S. and China also disagree over U.S. deployment of a missile-defense system to South Korea.

He acknowledged that the U.S. wants to see China do more. Beijing suspended the operation of more than 50 Lotte Mart stores after the South Korean retail conglomerate agreed to sell land for Thaad, and ordered travel agents to stop selling tour packages to the nation. But he said the Japan-South Korea relationship has been strained over failure to implement a 2015 agreement in which Japan's government consented to compensate South Korean victims of sexual slavery inflicted by the Japanese military during World War II.

A Japanese foreign ministry official said USA officials had discussed potential new approaches regarding North Korea, but he declined to elaborate. It is also conducting nuclear tests in what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described during a visit to Japan as an "ever-escalating threat".

  • Leroy Wright