Published: Wed, August 02, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to visit Southeast Asia

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said Tuesday that President Trump will likely sign the Russian sanctions bill, but acknowledged the administration wasn't happy with the move by Congress.

"We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel", said Mr Tillerson. "We are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond".

But he said he would like to have a dialogue with North Korean leaders at some point.

"We certainly don't blame the Chinese for the situation in North Korea", Washington's top diplomat said. However, given the potential for massive casualties from North Korean retaliation in allied South Korea and Japan and among United States troops there, it has stressed the need for a diplomatic solution.

Meanwhile, a senior Republican senator said President Trump considered going to war with North Korea as an option.

Tillerson is scheduled to participate in a US-ASEAN foreign ministerial meeting and a Lower Mekong Initiative ministerial meeting on Sunday, as well as a foreign ministerial meeting of the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum on Monday.

His statement comes just days after Pyongyang tested its second intercontinental ballistic missile, prompting a show of military force from both the US and South Korea.

The top USA diplomat, who has a more positive view of the 2015 accord, said he saw "a lot of alternative means with which we use the agreement to advance our policies and the relationship with Iran, and that's what the conversation generally is around with the president as well". And we're trying to convey that to the North Koreans.

North Korea's recent long-range missile tests have deepened concern about the threat Pyongyang poses to the United States mainland, and strengthened determination here to prevent any strike.

"He's told me that".

"There is a military option: To destroy North Korea's program and North Korea itself", Graham said.

"Noting that these developments threaten peace and stability in the region, we urged the DPRK to fully and immediately comply with its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions" banning Pyongyang from conducting nuclear and missile activities, the draft statement says.

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