Sunday 19 January 2020

North Korea 'behaving badly', tweets Trump as Tillerson talks tough

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Seoul. Photo: Getty
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Seoul. Photo: Getty

Neil Connor Beijing

Donald Trump said yesterday that North Korea was "behaving badly" and suggested the rogue state had been "playing the US for years", just hours after his secretary of state announced that military action against the North was "on the table".

Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, said during a visit to South Korea that the days of approaching North Korea with "strategic patience" were over.

Mr Tillerson added that efforts to rein in the state had failed, and indicated that the US may resort to using force against Pyongyang, which is alarming the world with its nuclear weapons tests.

"Certainly we do not want things to get to military conflict," he said. "If they elevate the threat of their weapons programme to a level that we believe requires action, then that option's on the table."

He added that the North "need not fear" the United States, as he began a visit to Asia calling for a "new approach" to the rogue nation.

A few hours later, the US president took to Twitter, where he attacked China for "doing little to help" tackle the despotic leader Kim Jong-un.

"North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been 'playing' the United States for years. China has done little to help!" he wrote.


During Mr Tillerson's visit, China said it would welcome fresh ideas on dealing with simmering tensions in the region, while a North Korean official in Beijing warned that the US and South Korea were taking the region to the "brink of nuclear war".

Washington's most senior diplomat made his comments after he met Fumio Kishida, the Japanese foreign minister, in Tokyo.

"North Korea and its people need not fear the United States or their neighbours in the region, who seek only to live in peace with North Korea," he said.

"With this in mind, the United States calls on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and refrain from any further provocation."

Tensions were raised last week after Pyongyang fired four missiles, in an apparent response to joint military exercises by South Korea and the US, which began a few days earlier.

The exercises had caused Pyongyang to take "tough measures", a North Korean diplomat told reporters in Beijing on Thursday.

He said they had bought the Korean peninsula "to the brink of nuclear war", according to a report by the 'Global Times' newspaper.

Last week, the Chinese foreign minister suggested Pyongyang could halt its nuclear plans if the United States and South Korea suspended military activities in the region.

US officials immediately rejected that proposal. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News