USA envoy in Japan to reassure on North Korea threat

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo Japan

M - Military action against North Korea is "an option on the table", US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said during a visit to South Korea, BBC reported.

"That includes a period in which the United States provided $1.35 billion in assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway", he said.

He is the latest in a series of senior United States officials to have their photos taken at the border, but it is the first trip by the new Trump administration's senior diplomat as he makes a tour of Japan, South Korea and China.

He said the US does not want a military conflict, "but obviously if North Korea takes actions that threatens South Korean forces or our own forces, that would be met with (an) appropriate response". South Korea and Japan have taken a similar approach, but China - North Korea's longtime ally - has urged the former six-nation coalition to resume peace talks instead.

Major news organizations complained, among them the BBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and Reuters.

In meetings with senior Chinese officials across the weekend, Tillerson is likely to suggest time is running out for a response as Pyongyang's capabilities grow.

The United States has begun deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system in South Korea, a move China objects to strongly because it sees the system's radar as a threat to its security.

Acting spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters this week that efforts to convince China to pressure North Korea were the "looming challenge" in trans-Pacific relations.

"So we hope China will alter its position on punishing South Korea". Last year, the North conducted two nuclear test explosions and 24 ballistic missile tests.

"Rather than making provocative threats and refusing to negotiate, the Trump administration should engage in coercive diplomacy aimed at halting and eventually rolling back North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program", Markey said in a statement Friday.

USA officials and Korea experts have long warned that pre-emptive military action against North Korea could incite a regional war. Tensions are running high on the divided Korean Peninsula, and North Korea last week launched four missiles into seas off Japan and where the U.S.is now conducting annual military drills with South Korea. State Department officials have described it as a "listening tour" as the administration seeks a coherent North Korea policy, well-coordinated with its Asian partners.

Tillerson also affirmed the United States' security commitment to Japan, the world's fourth-largest economy.

"He's going to have an opportunity at every stop to talk about next steps or what we do now, with respect to North Korea", he said.

"We look forward to a productive relationship with whoever the South Korean people elect to be their next President", Tillerson said.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told Business Insider the idea that North Korea's nuclear posturing could be answered with further nuclearization of the region was "foolish, simplistic, and naive", and "deeply, deeply troubling".

Tillerson, former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, said a goal of his trip was to "share ideas" about how to deal with Pyongyang's advancing nuclear and missile capabilities, what he called a "dangerous and unlawful" advancement.

"We ask China to refrain from such actions", he said.

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 a rare briefing on Thursday, Pak Myong Ho, an official at North Korea's embassy in Beijing, faulted the US for turning down China's proposal.

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