Mattis turns up heat on N Korea, China

USA allies have been anxious by Trump's actively courting Chinese President Xi Jinping to restrain North Korea, fearing Washington might allow China a more free rein elsewhere in the region.

Mattis made no mention of President Trump's decision to pull the USA out of the Paris climate change agreement.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis attends the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Asia Security Summit on Saturday in Singapore.

"While these decisions are disappointing, we should take care not to rush to interpret an intent to engage on different terms as one not to engage at all", Turnbull said. "Bear with us, once we have exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing", Mattis said, paraphrasing a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill.

Previously it was thought that China would only consider new sanctions on Pyongyang if North Korea conducted a long-range missile launch or another nuclear test.

Diplomats said it appeared China was still only likely to consider additional strong new United Nations sanctions measures, such as an oil embargo, a ban on Pyongyang's airline or tougher economic sanctions, if North Korea conducted a long-range missile launch or another nuclear test.

"The US and Australia reaffirmed our commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas, particularly the South China Sea and elsewhere, to ensure unimpeded flow of lawful commerce in a rules-based order", he said.

North Korea has publicized an appeal for peace via its state media, but accused the USA of pursuing a militarized policy that sought the destruction of the authoritarian country.

A South Korean civic group said Monday that North Korea has rejected its offer to provide anti-malaria supplies to protest Seoul's support of fresh United Nations sanctions on the country.

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. "Economical restrictions should be a kind of tool to invoke North Korea to a peaceful process of resolving the dispute and conflict, and not to once again deteriorate the economic solution in North Korea", he said. In addition, all countries are now required to freeze the assets of two trading companies, a bank and the Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People's Army, which is in charge of all ballistic missile programs.

"We are still trying to figure out his (Trump's) policy in our region", said Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

When asked about the level of representation from China, which sent a team with the lowest-level chief delegate since 2012, Dr Ng he was "very happy with the Chinese contribution this year", adding that the Chinese chief delegate Lieutenant-General He Lei was very open during ministerial discussions.

Hua said China hopes relevant parties will fully respect efforts made by countries in the region and play a constructive role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea.

It said until the US and its followers make the right choices, the North's "ultra-precision and diversified Juche Rocket" will continue to thunder and skyrocket in full blast in numbers and in succession.

  • Carolyn Briggs