Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Donald Trump’s remark that North Korea risked “fire and fury like the world has never seen” was an attempt to speak “in language that Kim Jong-un can understand.”
Tillerson added that Americans “should sleep well at night” and that he does not “believe that there is any imminent threat” from North Korea, the UK Independent reported on Wednesday.
“Pyongyang, in turn, said it was ‘carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam,’ an island in the Pacific home to around 6,000 US military personnel,” the Independent reported.
Tillerson made the remarks on his return from a diplomatic tour of Southeast Asia. Tillerson said the president’s comments were an attempt to prevent “any miscalculation” by the communist regime, which has launched a series a ballistic missiles and boasted about its nuclear weapons capabilities.
“I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the U.S.’ unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies,” Tillerson said.
Asked by reporters if Pyongyang can back away from its aggressive stance and prevent what could end in a military response from the United States, Tillerson said the option of dialogue remained on the table.
“Talks, with the right expectation of what those talks will be about,” he said.
Tillerson has repeatedly left the door open for dialogue with North Korea, including at a security forum in Manila on Monday, the Independent reported.
“The best signal that North Korea can give us that they are prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” Tillerson said.
Last week, Tillerson sent his own message to Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, which had a significantly different tone than the president’s. “We do not seek regime change,” Tillerson said at the time. “We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula.”
“We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,” Tillerson said.