Pentagon chief turns up heat on North Korea and China

Mattis made the comments during the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

The Trump administration has pledged to work with China on North Korea, but Trump has said the USA would act unilaterally if China did not step in.

"We are going to have to work together", Mattis said.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, despite partial counter-claims from Taiwan and several southeast Asian nations including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

"The adventurism of Pyongyang is not something that should provide us with a pretext for the increase of military activity in the region, much less for the implementation of plans of using force", he said.

The South China Sea dispute involves islands and maritime claims in the region among several sovereign states.

Dean further touched on Washington's military buildup in different parts of the world, including near the Russian border.

North Korea's press is tightly controlled by the government, and media outlets are often used to convey official messages overseas.

Allies of Washington, including North Korea's rival neighbor South Korea and Japan, have also positioned themselves for a potential conflict by conducting military exercises with USA naval assets in the Asia-Pacific. Those tests include a missile capable of reaching "the USA mainland and Pacific operation region" - according to North Korea's state news agency, at least.

Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, a spokesman for Mattis, said in a statement that the secretary and the prime minister reaffirmed the "excellent and long-standing" bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Singapore, as underscored by the 1990 memorandum of understanding, the 2005 strategic framework agreement and the 2015 enhanced defense cooperation agreement.

The security council voted unanimously to back the sanctions after weeks of negotiations between the USA and China to put more pressure on the secretive nation, with the resolution adopted by the 15-member council on Friday.

"Such a risky act is a sign that their (U.S.) preparations for unleashing a nuclear war against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] have reached the final phase", a spokesman for North Korea's Strategic Force told the country's official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA). Just a day or two after North Korea's most recent test, the U.S. "We believe the United States can engage China diplomatically and economically to ensure our relationship is beneficial not only to the United States and China, but also to the region and to the world". China, on the other hand, is a growing power that has benefited from 70 years of peace in the Pacific, but disregarded the concerns of some other Pacific nations, the secretary said.

Lieutenant General He Lei, the head of China's delegation to the summit, said the "Asia-Pacific situation is generally safe and positive" but warned of "hotspot issues" flaring up from time to time.

His Japanese counterpart, Tomomi Inada, expressed support for Washington's decision for any action, including a military offensive, to address North Korea's nuclear programme.

The UN's security council has imposed a series of fresh "targeted" sanctions on North Korea in response to repeated missile tests conducted by Pyongyang.

US President Donald Trump lobbied his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to put combined pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

  • Leroy Wright