Donald Trump does not believe diplomatic efforts with North Korea are a waste of time and talks will continue “until the first bomb drops”, Rex Tillerson has told CNN.
“The president has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically,” Mr Tillerson said.
“He is not seeking to go to war,” he continued.
The statement comes after months of tense relations between Washington and Pyongyang. Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have engaged in an increasingly vitriolic war of words, with North Korea testing missiles and vowing to develop nuclear weapons capabilities that could hit the United States mainland.
The US plans on conducting joint military exercises with South Korea in the coming week. Those exercises will include at least 40 naval vessels, and both of the countries’ air forces.
Those drills will include the aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan, two guided missile destroyers, and elements of the US Army, in addition to the air force presence.
Kim Jong-un inspects weapon North Korea says is powerful hydrogen bomb
“Trump called for total destruction of our state and people at the UN arena, and continues to bring nuclear strategic assets into south Korea and its vicinity, pushing the situation on the peninsula to the brink of war,” a state owned newspaper in North Korea wrote Sunday.
Contrary to what Mr Tillerson said on CNN, the President has previously said that he has told his secretary of State that discussions with North Korea were pointless. That statement was made in a recent tweet, and preceeded weeks of rumours that Mr Tillerson might be replaced soon, especially after news broke that Mr Tillerson had allegedly called Mr Trump a “moron” after a meeting on nuclear weapons.
Mr TIllerson has refused to verify or outright deny whether he called the President a “moron” after a meeting.