Tillerson calls on NKorea to quit nuke program

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"In the face of the ever-escalating threat, it is clear that a new approach is required", Tillerson added, without explaining what that approach would be. Tillerson described the weapons programs as "dangerous and unlawful".

The comments are at variance with a tough stand taken by the new USA administration on North Korea. "The message now to China in particular, when he gets to Beijing is that press freedom doesn't matter", Mitchell said in a recent TV appearance.

And despite Tillerson's tough talk - clearly aimed at reassuring Tokyo and Seoul - what path Trump will ultimately choose is a mystery.

Tillerson is making his first trip to Asia as the top usa diplomat.

China resents US pressure to do more on North Korea and says it is doing all it can but will not take steps to threatened the livelihoods of the North Korean people.

The United States signaled a tougher strategy toward North Korea on Friday that leaves open the possibility of pre-emptive military action and rejects talks with the communist nation until it gives up its weapons of mass destruction. He also met Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is also acting president.

Tillerson, who had dinner with Trump at the White House on Monday, will fly without the normal press contingent on his plane that has traditionally accompanied US secretaries of state since the days of Henry Kissinger in the 1970s.

In Tokyo yesterday, Tillerson called for closer "trilateral cooperation" between Japan, South Korea and the US.

On the economic front, the two sides evidently sought to patch up the rift caused by the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had promised greater access to each other's markets as part of a wider push for a US-led Asia-Pacific economic bloc against China. He spoke through a translator.

Since then, North Korea has violated multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and has been undeterred by tough global sanctions.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency reported on March 7 that four ballistic missiles were launched simultaneously the previous day. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis went last month, and Vice President Mike Pence is due in April, underscoring the administration's focus on using North Korea's missile and nuclear programs as a pretext for targeting China. He said his trip was meant to get input from other governments.

He called on China to "fully implement" UN-approved sanctions against North Korea, and said Washington will be "calling on everyone to join in" future actions.

Trump, meanwhile, tweeted Friday that "North Korea is behaving very badly".

During last year's election campaign, presidential candidate Donald Trump called into question USA security alliances and called for Tokyo and Seoul to contribute more for their defence.

While the official said "nobody is going to be negotiating core American interests", there may be other "areas of emphasis" in the U.S. In a sign of that, Tillerson reiterated that a U.S. -Japan mutual defence treaty covers Japanese-administered islands in the East China Sea also claimed by China. The original goal of the Thaad battery was to safeguard the USA military in South Korea. Washington has been urging its two allies to step security up co-operation despite their historically strained relations.

In Beijing, a North Korean diplomat said Thursday that Pyongyang must act in self-defence against the drills, which he said have brought the region to the brink of nuclear war. Tillerson, however, stressed that co-operation with Japan and South Korea was "critical". At the same time, Seoul must correct Washington's misled views that the free trade agreement with the United States unilaterally benefits South Korea. The agreement on the issue of so-called "comfort women" reached by the governments of Japan and South Korea in December 2015 constitutes the foundation of a stable bilateral relationship.

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