Tillerson, Mattis: Military option still in play for North Korea

NORTHKOREA-MISSILES

NORTHKOREA-MISSILES

"Both Secretary Mattis and Minister Song strongly condemned North Korea's second intercontinental ballistic missile test on July 28 and resolved to continue to closely coordinate responses to the North Korean threat", White said.

Trump warned North Korea recently it will face "fire and fury" if it threatens the United States, prompting North Korea to say it is considering plans to fire missiles toward Guam.

But even as attention has rapidly shifted at home, partners in East Asia and beyond have continued to seek reassurance that the United States will defend them as vigorously as it will protect itself, if necessary, while refraining from initiating a shooting war on its own.

USA officials said Thursday that the United States remained unwavering in its commitment to Asian allies in the wake of threats from North Korea, while indicating diplomacy "has to be backed by a strong military outcome".

"If you just leave the situation to be dealt with by the United States, and a war started just like that, we in Japan would be quite scared", he said.

For one thing, they confirmed the overall level of Japan's support for the cost of stationing U.S. troops on its territory will be "maintained roughly" at the level of Japan's fiscal year 2015, when Tokyo paid about 86.4 per cent of the total cost, or 191 billion yen (S$2.4 billion).

The term is sometimes used interchangeably with "pre-emptive" action, although the latter refers more often to forestalling an attack.

Japan is a key US ally and potential target of North Korean aggression. He said that Pyongyang's missile launches were "unacceptable provocations - and they must stop immediately".

Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the exercises were "not now on the table as part of the negotiation at any level".

"In the event of a missile launch towards the territory of Japan, Guam, United States, Korea, we would take immediate, specific actions to take it down", he stated.

Notably, the statement included an affirmation that Article V of the U.S. -Japan mutual defense treaty would apply to the Senkaku Islands, which Japan administers, but China claims.

Tillerson declined to comment on reported remarks from Trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon that the escalating tensions surrounding North Korea are a "sideshow" to the more consequential economic competition between the United States and China.

Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China's powerful Central Military Commission, told Dunford that China believed the only effective way to resolve the issue was through talks.

Also Friday, William Hagerty, the new USA ambassador to Japan, said he had arrived at a hard time and that the US wants to work with Japan to "calm the rhetoric" over North Korea.

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