US ‘not rushing to war’ with N Korea
BANGKOK – Agence France-Presse
Washington is seeking a “peaceful resolution” with North Korea, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said ahead of a visit to the divided peninsula amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear threats.
In recent months the North has staged its sixth nuclear test and fired a flurry of missiles, sparking a fiery war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
But Mattis, who arrived in Thailand yesterday following a meeting with his ASEAN counterparts in the Philippines, said Washington was “not rushing to war” and looking for a diplomatic resolution.
“Do we have military options in defense if we’re attacked, our allies are attacked? Of course we do,” Mattis said. “But everyone is out for a peaceful resolution.”
Following talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the security forum in Manila, the ministers agreed Pyongyang’s weapons program posed an “unprecedented and grave threat” and vowed to step up diplomatic pressure against the regime.
“And that’s really what -- what it is all about, to keep DPRK efforts firmly in the diplomatic lane for resolution,” Mattis said, using the acronym for the North’s official name.
Mattis is on an Asian tour which will see him arriving in Seoul today for annual defense talks, ahead of a visit to South Korea by Trump next month. The U.S. president’s recent remark that “only one thing will work” with North Korea fuelled concerns of a potential conflict.
But even some Trump advisers say U.S. military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital Seoul.