US president says he wants to seek a diplomatic solution to Korean crisis and uncovers China is helping to pressure Kim Jong-un
Donald Trump has said that a major conflict was possible with North Korea though he would prefer to solve the stalemate over the countrys nuclear and missile program through diplomacy.
Trumps alerting on Thursday came towards the end of a week where the administration has made a concerted effort to restrain Pyongyang from carrying on business as major new weapons tests.
At the same time, US officials sought to clarify US policy after a variety of mixed signals in the administrations firstly 100 days.
Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, used to say the US would be prepared to enter into direct the negotiations with the regime of Kim Jong-un, but that it would have to prepare to negotiate get rid of all its nuclear weapons.
The opening to diplomacy came as the heads of state of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris told the Senate that the stalemate with North Korea was the most difficult he had verified. It was an assessment echoed by the president.
There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major is consistent with North Korea. Perfectly, Trump told Reuters.
Wed love to solve things diplomatically but its very difficult, the president added.
Trump indicated there had been a breakthrough in Chinese readiness to aid apply pressure on Kim since Xi Jinping inspected the US president in Florida earlier this month.
I believe he[ the Chinese chairwoman] is trying very hard. He certainly doesnt want to see disturbance and fatality. He doesnt want to see it. He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well, Trump said.
With that being said, he adores China and he adores the people of China. I know he would like to be able to do something, perhaps its possible that he cant.
Tillerson had earlier said the Chinese had cautioned Pyongyang, an increasingly unruly client in recent years, that it would impose punitive measures if North Korea carried out provocative tests.
We know that China is in communications with the regime in Pyongyang, he told Fox News. They confirmed to us that they had requested the regime conduct no further nuclear test.
According to Tillerson, the Chinese told the regime that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions acts on their own.
The secretary of state said that the North koreans viewed its nuclear weapons and missile programs as such guarantees of survival, and that the Trump administration sought to change that mindset.
We want to change that calculus of theirs and we have said to them: your pathway to survival and safety is to eliminate your nuclear weapons and we and other countries will help you on the way to economic growing, Tillerson mentioned. He assured Pyongyang that the US objective was ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons , not toppling Kim Jong-un.
We do not seek a regiman change in North Korea. We are not trying the collapse of the regime.
Tillerson said that the US administration would wait as long as it takes for talks to start North Korea conducted no new nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
The secretary of state did not immediately reply to a question for purposes of determining whether this policy was very similar to the strategic patience pursued by the Obama administration, which Tillerson had earlier mentioned had come to an end.
In his Oval Office interview with Reuters, Trump offered an evaluation of Kim.
Asked if he considered the Northern korean president to be rational he have also pointed out that Kim had taken over his country at an early age.
Hes 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regiman. So say what you want but that is not easy, especially at that age, he said.
Im not rendering him credit or not rendering him credit, Im just saying thats a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not hes rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope hes rational, he mentioned.
Meanwhile, in a sign that North Koreas regional neighbours are taking the threat of fuelling conflict severely, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull cautioned that Pyongyang could launch a nuclear attack on nations and claimed China has not applied enough pressure on the regime.
There is the possibility and health risks that North Korea could launch an attack on its neighbours, Turnbull said on 3AW radio.
That is the reason why there is so much effort being put into seeking to stop this reckless and dangerous conduct by the North koreans. They are a real menace to the serenity and stability in the region and to the whole world.
Turnbull mentioned while North Korea was often a subject of parody, the two countries had nuclear weapons and regularly threatened to use them.
Their threats can seem sometimes to be theatrical and over the top and they have been the subject of parody but I can assure you that my own government takes … the threat of North Korea very seriously, he said.
On Friday morning Tillerson will chair a special ministerial session of the UN security council on North Korea, is targeted at persuading other members to impose subsisting imposing sanctions on Pyongyang more rigorously.
In Washington, the heads of state of the Arms Control Association, Daryl Kimball, welcomed the Trump administrations readiness for direct the negotiations with North Korea.
There are some new things here. They are stimulating clear that regime change is not the goals and targets. There is a recognition that North Korea has security concerns, Kimball mentioned. I think what we hearing the evening is more of the engagement part of the maximum pressure engagement plan that they are slowly rolling out.
He added: Its going to require persistence and patience.
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