Tillerson seeks new North Korea plan on Seoul visit

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday that the escalating threat from North Korea's nuclear program showed a clear need for a "new approach", although he stopped short of detailing what steps the Trump administration will pursue.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson military action would be on the table if North Korea lifted its threat level.

Donald Trump took aim at North Korea Friday warning the country had been "behaving badly", while his administration said military force is an option to deal with any threat from the North's weapons program.

On Thursday, Tillerson said past USA engagement with North Korea was a "failure" after meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.

Tillerson also said that the United States disagrees with a suggestion from the Chinese government that dropping military drills would spur North Korea to the table.

He said Wang and he agreed to work together to persuade North Korea "make a course connection and move away from the development of their nuclear weapons".

North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests and a series of missile launches since the beginning of past year.

Wang restated Beijing's calls for dialogue between the USA and North Korea and called Tillerson's visit an important step toward a meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Trump expected next month.

"What China wants to see is that, rather than get at each other's throat, both China and the USA further increase their exports to each other, eventually reaching about $1 trillion".

Six North Korean defectors were arrested in China's Hebei Province last weekend and are at risk of being sent back to the repressive state.

Hours before the meeting, North Korea announced it had tested a new high-thrust missile engine. "China has done little to help!" Beijing says this will harm both China's own security and do nothing to ease tensions.

Trump had branded China a currency manipulator stealing American jobs and also threatened to impose 45 per cent tariffs on Chinese goods. Tillerson will meet with President Xi Jinping in Beijing this weekend.

The U.S. has limited leverage with China, the country holding the second-most U.S. debt after Japan.

"I think it's important to recognise that the diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of denuclearisation have failed", he said.

Beijing is North Korea's only real ally and its main economic benefactor, accounting for 70% of the country's trade. "So we hope China will alter its position on punishing South Korea".

"In return, North Korea has detonated nuclear weapons, and dramatically increased its launches of ballistic missiles to threaten America and our allies", he said. Diplomatic sources told VOA the meeting from April 6-7 will take place at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

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