Senate called to North Korea briefing

"There have been number of times where Sean has been the center of some firestorm where within 24 hours there are anonymous White House officials criticizing him", said Earnest.

Other top administration officials who will brief the senators at the meeting include Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, according to Reuters.

North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threat is perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting U.S. President Donald Trump.

The briefing will take place at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT). During the meeting, the lawmakers will be allowed to air their views and ask questions about the matter.

The full Senate is set to make a "field trip" to the White House Wednesday afternoon for a security briefing on the North Korean threat.

Observers have pointed out that the decision by the Trump administration to summon the entire 100-member Senate to the White House for a briefing is unusual.

The image of senators meeting with Trump at the White House on a top national security concern could be touted by the White House as a key moment in the run-up to Trump's first 100 days in office - a milestone the president has mocked in recent days but that his administration is working aggressively to promote.

Trump is on the verge of making a decision on increasing troop levels in Afghanistan following a comprehensive review of U.S. strategy, according to a senior United States official, who declined to speculate when precisely Trump would announce his decision.

This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on April 26, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending a combined fire demonstration of the services of the Korean People's Army.

North Korea said the country is in its final stage for an intercontinental ballistic missile launch. "I think that's going to start happening now", he said. He stayed on message - he was in front of the cameras to apologize, he came across as very honest, and he showed, and possibly learned, that is it OK in Washington to admit you are human and are flawed.

In recent days Ms Haley and other United States officials have underlined China's helpfulness in seeking to increase pressure on the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. North Korea is still believed to be preparing for its sixth nuclear test.

The lawyer of an American-Iranian father and son jailed in Iran calls on Trump to get his officials to press at nuclear talks with Tehran on Tuesday for the men's release.

Meanwhile, a third US citizen was detained Friday by North Korean authorities as he was about to leave the country.

During a White House lunch with ambassadors of United Nations Security Council member states on Monday, the US president called unacceptable the "status quo in North Korea".

At least two other US citizens are known to be held in North Korea.

Total imports from the North by China - Pyongyang's sole major diplomatic ally and chief trading partner - stood at $114.56 million last month, down from 176.7 million in February, according to Chinese customs data. In 2016 China imported coal worth some $1.19 billion from the North.

  • Larry Hoffman