Mattis pressed to defend Trump’s rejection of US-North Korea talks

 In World
Defense Secretary James Mattis was pressed Tuesday to explain President Donald Trump’s recent spate of tweets that appeared to reject a diplomatic solution on North Korea.

It followed the Defense secretary’s opening remarks to a Senate panel that the Pentagon “supports fully” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s ongoing “efforts to find a diplomatic solution [to the North Korean threat] but remains focused on defense of the United States and our allies.”

Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Mattis’ comments about the DOD supporting diplomatic efforts toward Pyongyang “does not seem to be translated to the president.” Reed said Trump “has in several tweets suggested that Secretary Tillerson’s opening of [diplomatic] channels and preparing to discuss issues, directly and indirectly, is essentially a waste of time.”

Reed asked Mattis, “How do you respond to those types of [tweets]. On one hand, you strongly support him (Tillerson), and on the other hand … the president is telling him to knock it off.”

Mattis responded that the president’s guidance to both him and Tillerson “has been very clearly that we would pursue the diplomatic effort,” which the retired Marine Corps four-star general said includes various initiatives with China along with economic sanctions aimed at the rogue regime in Pyongyang

Mattis termed the current approach to nuclear-armed North Korea “a dynamic balance as we try to go forward with a solution.” Yet he also said the U.S. needs to “ensure we have military options.”

The Defense secretary said he believes Tillerson accurately stated that the U.S. “is probing for opportunities to talk with the North. All we’re doing is probing; we’re not talking with them.”

According to Mattis, that approach to North Korea is “consistent with the president’s dismay about not talking with them before the time is right.” He then quickly added, “before they are willing to talk.”

“So I do not see the divergence as strongly as some have interpreted it,” said Mattis.

Trump tweeted Sunday, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”

Last month, Trump referred to North Korea’s leader as “Rocket Man on a suicide mission.” Those comments were made during the president’s first speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

Recent Posts
Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox
Join over 2.3 million subscribers. Get daily breaking news directly to your inbox as they happen.
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Get Latest News in Facebook
Never miss another breaking news. Click on the "LIKE" button below now!