WASHINGTON - The top U.S. diplomat is in China on the third and final leg of his first Asia tour, focusing on North Korea and its controversial nuclear and missile programs.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Saturday after meeting in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, tensions on the Korean Peninsula were at a “rather dangerous level.”
“I think we share a common view and a sense that tensions in the peninsula are quite high right now,” Tillerson said. He continued: “We will work together to see if we cannot bring the government in Pyongyang to a place where they want to make a different course, make a course correction, and move away from the development of nuclear weapons.”
Trade, South China Sea
Tillerson plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping Sunday. Beyond North Korea, discussions are likely to focus on trade and South China Sea territorial disputes.
The secretary also spoke about the U.S. and China independent of the North Korea issue, saying the countries had "a very positive relationship built on non-confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect, and always searching for win-win solutions."
Earlier in the week, the secretary called on China to step up its efforts to encourage North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. He also encouraged China to fully implement U.N. sanctions meant to pressure the North Korean government.
Friday in Seoul, Tillerson said the policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended, and that military action against Pyongyang is “an option on the table.”
Tillerson said “North Korea must understand the only way to a secure, economically prosperous future” is for it “to abandon its development of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.”
Set of capabilities
In a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson said a “comprehensive set of capabilities” is being created to deal with the isolated country.
On the first leg of his tour in Japan, Tillerson said Thursday in Tokyo “it is clear that a different approach is required” after 20 years of failed diplomatic efforts to prevent North Korea from having nuclear weapons.