The Pentagon "supports fully" U.S. State Department efforts to find a diplomatic solution with North Korea, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday.
Mattis, however, added that the actions of the State Department were not necessarily contradictory to President Donald Trump's comments that diplomatic talks with Pyongyang would be a waste of time.
“All we’re doing is probing - we’re not talking with them – consistent with the president’s dismay about not talking with them before the time is right," Mattis said, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “So I do not see the divergence as strongly as some have interpreted it,”
On Saturday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the United States has direct diplomatic channels through which to try to negotiate with Pyongyang about North Korea’s continued nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
President Trump appeared to undercut his top diplomat the following day, saying Tillerson is "wasting his time" trying to negotiate with North Korea's leader.
In one of a series of tweets the president said, "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"
Despite Trump's remarks, the White House said Monday that the president still has confidence in Tillerson.