Tillerson gets a look at NKorea at the DMZ between Koreas

Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S.is considering "all options" to counter North Korea's nuclear threat while criticizing China over moves to block a missile-defense system on the peninsula. "China has done little to help!"

He said the USA does not want a military conflict, but if North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean or US forces it would be met with an "appropriate response".

And then at the weekend, there will be his much anticipated trip to Beijing, amid reports that Tillerson will seek to finalise plans for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to visit Trump in April.

Speaking in Seoul at a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson said Washington's policy of "strategic patience" had ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. Administration officials say all options are on the table, including military ones, but signs are that the US for starters wants to see rigorous implementation of existing sanctions against the North.

Washington has previously said all options, including military, are on the table in its review of policies toward North Korea and Japanese officials are keen to know more details. "With this in mind, the United States calls on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and refrain from any further provocation".

"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.

Tillerson said the current level of spending is "not unsustainable".

Washington's top diplomat was to fly into Tokyo on Wednesday to begin a first tour of Asian capitals under the shadow of North Korea's nuclear posturing.

More broadly, Tillerson poured cold water on the idea of resuming negotiations with Pyongyang, saying, "20 years of talks with North Korea have brought us to where we are today".

"America has provided $1.3 billion in assistance (to North Korea) since 1995". Ltd for ties to North Korea - the first time the Obama administration hit a Chinese firm with sanctions for dealing with North Korea and supporting its nuclear program.

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

As a result, the White House proposed on Thursday a reduction of some 28 percent on USA diplomacy and foreign aid.

Tillerson urged China and other countries to fully implement the sanctions.

China's hardline conservatives "would love to have an excuse to go harder on the United States", he said.

Earlier Friday, Tillerson touched down by helicopter at Camp Bonifas, U.S. -led United Nations base about 400 metres (438 yards) from the Demilitarized Zone, a Cold War vestige created after the Korean War ended in 1953.

Given that China represents 90 percent of North Korea's economic activity, Beijing has leverage, Klingner said.

For now, US officials consider pre-emptive military action against North Korea far too risky, given the danger of igniting a regional war and causing massive casualties in Japan and South Korea and among tens of thousands of USA troops based in both allied countries.

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.

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

The state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said on Friday that it was in China's interests to stop North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

He has drawn criticism from many State Department officials who believe he has failed to cultivate potential allies in Trump's cabinet and on Capitol Hill.

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