Use of pre-emptive force an option with NKorea

Rex Tillerson

Tillerson has questioned USA policy on North Korea and is working on a new approach after declaring 20 years of previous policies "have failed".

China has also been infuriated by the deployment of the THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, missile defense system in South Korea, which it says will both harm China's own security and do nothing to ease tensions.

The impeachment of President Park Geun-hye one week ago has not only upended domestic politics, it has raised questions over the balance of Washington-Seoul relations at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

"We remain committed to a USA foreign policy that advances the security and prosperity of the American people", the spokesperson told Politico.

In the next six to 12 months, Tillerson will decide how the State Department will be restructured "and you can expect the department to look pretty different", another person familiar with the budget discussions told Politico. Washington has said in the past that the North's nuclear weapons program must be settled first, and even talks on that issue have been stalled for years. "As time goes by, there will be fewer military conflicts that the US will be directly engaged in".

Echoing arguments by analysts - who point to the failure of sanctions and military build-up to prevent North Korea's nuclear testing - Baek said she and other civil society activists feel "the only solution is direct negotiation".

In 2003, the Bush administration entered into a series of negotiations with North Korea and four other countries, dubbed theSix Party Talks, aimed at deescalating the nuclear situation. The U.S. Department of State says too it wants "to create a level playing field for our trade and investment interests". But it's the first trip by the new Trump administration's senior diplomat as he makes a tour of Japan, South Korea and China.

There, he will urge his hosts to pressure Kim Jong-Un's regime to halt Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs before committing to eventual peace talks.

Analysts said that Tillerson's comments could signal a sweeping change in Washington's stance.

Although the US "acknowledges" China's opposition, Tillerson urged China to "address the threat that makes Thaad necessary".

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since the beginning of a year ago. Tillerson's tour comes after a missile launch last week that Pyongyang described as a drill for an attack on United States bases in Japan. He's due in South Korea Friday for his first meeting with the country's interim president Hwang Kyo-ahn.

"I don't think THAAD is the reason (for) North Korea's provocations, but they might use this opportunity to estrange South Korea, China, and the U.S.", she said. US President Donald Trump stirred concern in the region during his White House campaign by suggesting allies like Japan and South Korea need to do more to defend themselves.

A former oil executive with no prior diplomatic experience, Tillerson will meet China's two top diplomats on Saturday and Xi on Sunday.

"I'm confident that with the input of the men and women of the State Department we are going to construct a way forward that allows us to be much more effective, much more efficient and be able to do a lot with fewer dollars", he said.

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