Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Democratic lawmakers urge Tillerson to stop Trump's NK threats

Democratic lawmakers urge Tillerson to stop Trump's NK threats

US Defense Secretary James Mattis has said war with North Korea would be "catastrophic" as tensions with the reclusive nation reach breaking point.

"My mission, my responsibility is to have military options if you need it", Mattis said.

"Accordingly, we respectfully but firmly urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that President Trump and other administration officials understand the importance of speaking, and acting with the utmost caution and restraint on this delicate issue".

Pyongyang has been louder in its complaints against a new and tough round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations, with strong U.S. backing, and Washington's use of Guam as a staging ground for its stealth bombers, which could be used to attack North Korea and are a particularly sore point with the ruling regime in Pyongyang.

South Korea's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and his US counterpart H.R. McMaster spoke on the phone for 40 minutes early on Friday, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul said.

"On the situation on the Korean peninsula obviously the Secretary General remains extremely concerned by the ongoing situation; he's troubled by the increase in confrontational rhetoric that we've seen", a spokesman for Guterres said.

President Donald Trump "was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces", Mattis said.

"China should make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US territories and triggers USA retaliations, China will stay neutral". But he says that, until that happens, the U.S.

"I think that the President, again, as commander-in-chief, I think he felt it necessary to issue a very strong statement directly to North Korea", Tillerson said.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said Thursday that the USA and South Korean militaries are prepared to "immediately and sternly punish" any kind of provocation by North Korea, but didn't elaborate on how the allies are preparing.

North Korea has unleashed personal attacks on past Washington and Seoul leaders.

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