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An American lawmaker is downplaying North Korean threats to strike the U.S. mainland, but worries Pyongyang is picking a fight with other nations in Asia.

Republican Congressman Peter King is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a member of the House Committee on Intelligence. Appearing on ABC’s This Week program, King was asked if a North Korean threat to launch missiles against the United States should be taken seriously.

“It is not an empty threat. I would not be that concerned about them hitting the mainland U.S. right now, or even any U.S. territory. I think the real threat is what North Korea might be boxing itself into,” he said.

King said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is precipitating conflict in Asia for domestic political purposes, and may have no face-saving option for de-escalating tensions.

“My concern would be, that to save face he may launch some sort of attack on South Korea, or some [military] base in the Pacific,” said King.

King added that he sees no purpose in direct U.S. talks with North Korea, which he said would demoralize U.S. allies.

The Obama administration has stepped up U.S. missile defense in the Pacific, and in a display of capabilities, dispatched stealth B-2 bombers to drop inert munitions on an island training range of ally South Korea.