Tillerson calls for 'new approach' to N. Korea threat

After meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on Friday, Tillerson told reporters that the United States "policy of strategic patience has ended".

Chas Freeman, a seasoned diplomat since the Nixon administration, said Tillerson's low-key style might be a survival tactic.

"Diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of denuclearization have failed", he told reporters on Thursday in Tokyo, reflecting a widely held but rarely publicly spoken view of many experts both in and outside of the USA government.

U.S. officials have been spooked by North Korea's accelerating progress towards building an intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten USA mainland cities.

"So China's proposal is, why not do these things at the same time?" China recently announced it was suspending for the rest of the year coal imports that are an important source of revenue for North Korea. A similar proposal by Foreign Minister Wang Yi was rejected by the US State Department last week.

By comparison, the North Korean air forces are virtually nonexistent. But he has also hinted at a hawkish approach or shifting the onus nearly completely on to Beijing, which is North Korea's biggest trading partner and economic lifeline.

"We will be having discussions with China as to other actions that they should be undertaking".

Speaking in Tokyo, Mr Tillerson had vowed a tougher strategy to confront North Korea's nuclear threat, but he offered no details about what would comprise the "different approach".

"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".

One of the four medium-range missiles launched by North Korea earlier this month fell around 200 km off the coast of Akita, the closest a Pyongyang missile has ever been to the Japanese territory, according to the government.

"North Korea is behaving very badly". U.S. officials are reviewing options that could include a preemptive military strike and renewed talks with North Korea.

"Secretary Tillerson's comments on North Korea sound like a simplistic version of the past without a clear vision for the future", John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University's Graduate School of International Affairs told CNN.

"We can influence the Chinese banks and businesses that are dealing with North Korea. It can not be reduced to a talking point like - we spent $1.3 billion and got nothing for it".

Tillerson, a former oil executive with no prior diplomatic experience, travels to China on Saturday, where he will press Beijing, North Korea's only ally, to do more to rein in its neighbour.

North Korea last week launched four more ballistic missiles and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

In his interview with CNN, Xiao addressed criticisms that China can and should be doing more unilaterally to stop North Korea.

"This is a rather complicated situation".

"The DPRK has been saying all along that it is the threat from the U.S. to make them choose other options, including nuclearization of their military capabilities".

He called on Beijing to implement sanctions against North Korea and said there was no need for China to punish South Korea for deploying an advanced US anti-missile system aimed at defending against North Korea.

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