Tillerson says Asia allies 'critical' for addressing NKorea

Cheryl Sanders
March 18, 2017

One case in point is Thursday's White House proposal to cut spending on U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid by some 28 percent, a sign that the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development are not Trump priorities.On Thursday in Tokyo, Tillerson said the State Department's current spending is "simply not sustainable", and accepted the "challenge" Trump had given in proposing to cut more than a quarter of his agency's budget. Experts say it could have a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the United States within a few years.

North Korea has a long-standing ambition to become a nuclear power and conducted its first underground atomic test in 2006, in the teeth of global opposition.

At the outset of the meeting with Kishida, Tillerson praised Japan as a "cornerstone of peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region".

Kishida said the fact that Japan was Tillerson's first stop showed the importance Washington attaches to the relationship.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will tell his counterparts in China that the USA is prepared to increase financial penalties against Chinese companies and banks that do business with North Korea, according to senior U.S. officials.

North Korea claims that military exercises conducted by neighbouring South Korea in collaboration with the U.S. are acts of aggression towards it, and its ally China has backed Kim's regime's stance. "So we have 20 years of a failed approach", the former ExxonMobil CEO said in a press conference on Thursday.

On March 6, Pyongyang launched four ballistic missiles, one of which landed about 200 km north of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.

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

Kishida, meanwhile, thanked Tillerson for United States backing.

The former Exxon Mobil Corp CEO has faced multiple challenges in his first weeks as chief USA diplomat, including unpredictable policy pronouncements from Trump.

"Certainly we do not want to, for things to get to military conflict", he told reporters in Seoul, but added: "If they elevate the threat of their weapons programme to a level that we believe requires action, then that option's on the table".

While the US and its allies in Seoul and Tokyo implore Beijing to press its economic leverage over North Korea, the Chinese have emphasized their desire to relaunch diplomatic talks - a non-starter for the USA under current conditions.

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

Past U.S. administrations have considered military options against North Korea and have publicly said that an attack on the U.S. or its allies would prompt a devastating response.

"Our stance is that since the USA and its followers continue their nuclear threats and intimidation - in the form of their annual military drills - on the doorstep of DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), we will continue to strengthen our defense and preemptive strike capabilities", he said. He said the drills were aimed at using atomic weapons for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.

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