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Tillerson: US still interested in talks with N. Korea

Tillerson: US still interested in talks with N. Korea

"And what none of us know is whether President Trump will ultimately accept a position in history which says, "I'm the guy and it was on my watch that this state finally crossed the threshold of constituting a threat to the U.S. mainland".

North Korea conducted two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July, sharply increasing tensions in an already volatile region.

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un inspected the command of the country's army on Monday, examining a plan to fire four missiles to land near Guam, the Korean Central News Agency, KCNA, said in a report. "But we'll know if that's where it's going", the top Pentagon official said.

"Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam", Song said according to ministry official.

He added: "If they shoot at the United States, I'm assuming they hit the United States".

The North has always denounced the drills as provocative rehearsals for invasion and has in the past offered a moratorium on further nuclear and missile tests in exchange for their cancellation - a trade-off promoted by Pyongyang's main ally China, but repeatedly rejected by Washington and Seoul.

Moon said the North could create conditions for talks by stopping nuclear and missile tests. "We continue to be interested in finding ways to get to dialogue, but that's up to him".

Meanwhile, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began a tour of Asia meeting to reassure South Korean president Moon Jae-in.

Tillerson: US still interested in talks with N. Korea

Tensions flared last week after Pyongyang threatened to fire four intermediate-range ballistic missiles towards the USA territory of Guam.

A possible opening for diplomacy comes amid reports that the Trump administration has been engaged in back channel talks with North Korea.

Dunford's trip has been long scheduled and was not arranged in response to the North Korean nuclear threat.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reviewed his military's plans to rain "an enveloping fire" around the USA territory of Guam - but opted not to fire missiles at this time, according to state media.

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump's "fire and fury" comments as "not helpful in an environment that's very tense".

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric. This alone is good reason for China to dissuade North Korea from starting a war against the US.

China, which fought alongside North Korea in the Korean War, also wants to use its alliance with North Korea as leverage in dealing with the United States as the two superpowers battle for hegemony in the region and beyond.

But Mattis did not say what actions the USA military would take if North Korea fired missiles toward waters around the small American island in the Pacific Ocean. "All those smart people who are criticizing his rhetoric and his policy, how well did you do?"

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