USA defense chief to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel next week

An attempted missile launch by North Korea failed when it exploded immediately after liftoff, a US official says.An official said.

Asked about his visit to Saudi Arabia, Mattis said the desert kingdom is a "pillar of our security framework for the region".

The United States, its allies and China are working on a range of responses to North Korea's missile test, US officials have said.

"It shows why we are working so closely right now with the try to get this under control and aim for the denuclearized Korean peninsula", Mattis said. He is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with King Salman, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also is the Saudi defense minister, and other top officials.

"Our goal ... is for that crisis, the ongoing fight, to be put in front of a United Nations -brokered negotiation team and try and resolve this politically as soon as possible", Mattis said. Mattis is looking to the Middle East and North Africa for broader contributions and new ideas to fight Islamic extremism as the Trump administration fleshes out its counterterrorism strategy.

"This is something, with the number of innocent people dying inside Yemen, that simply has to be brought to an end", he said. As the Trump administration draws a tougher line with the regime, what options are open to the USA, its allies and China?

The North has warned of a nuclear strike against the United States if provoked.

Egypt has been seeking to tighten its relationship with the USA since president Donald Trump was elected.

Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said Saudi Arabia was concerned strategically about Iran, its main rival in a regional power struggle.

  • Zachary Reyes