PENTAGON / WHITE HOUSE —
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has emphasized the U.S. is “never out of diplomatic solutions” when it comes to the North Korean crisis, after President Donald Trump said that "talking is not the answer."
Mattis was responding to a question about Trump’s tweet Wednesday morning about dealing with the threat of North Korea following the country's most recent ballistic missile test over Japan.
"The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!" Trump tweeted, a day after he said "All options are on the table" for dealing with Pyongyang.
Defense Secretary Mattis welcomed his South Korean counterpart to the Pentagon on Wednesday, as the two countries try to figure out how to handle recent North Korean provocations.
“We continue to work together, and the Minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations, and our interests…and look for all the areas that we can collaborate,” Mattis said.
North Korea has acknowledged firing a ballistic missile Tuesday over Japan, saying it was to counter current joint exercises by South Korea and the United States.
In Geneva, U.S. Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood called for “concerted action” in response to the “increasing threat” caused by North Korea’s missile program, calling it the greatest current “challenge to the global security environment.”
“We must respond to the serious threats it makes to the United States and to our allies,” he said. “We want to be clear to North Korea that the United States has the unquestionable ability and unbending will to defend itself and its allies.”
On Wednesday the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying the drill for the launch of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile was “like a real war” and the first step by North Korea's military for operations in the Pacific and “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam."
The U.S. and South Korea have been conducting war games in recent days, as rhetoric between North Korea and the United States has heated up.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy announced its sailors had successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii Wednesday in a test of its defense systems.
“We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves,” said Lieutenant General Sam Greaves, the director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.