WASHINGTON, DC – Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday that the U.S. is not out of diplomatic options to denuclearize North Korea.
“No,” James Mattis responded to the question: “Are we out of diplomatic solutions for North Korea?”
“We’re never out of diplomatic solutions. We continue to work together, and the minister and I share responsibility to provide for the protection of our nation, our populations, and our interests, which is what we are here to discuss today,” he said.
“And look for all the areas we can collaborate – there is already very strong collaboration, we always look for more, we are never complacent,” he added.
Mattis’s remarks were widely interpreted by journalists and pundits on Twitter as a contradiction of President Trump’s tweet earlier in the day even though the question was not directly about the tweet.
“The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2017
The Trump administration is pursuing a diplomatic strategy to get North Korea to denuclearize, which involves building pressure and consensus at the United Nations; using tougher sanctions and enforcing existing ones; working with allies to also pressure North Korea; and increasing pressure on China – North Korea’s main trading partner – to cooperate.
The question came at the end of remarks Mattis gave before a meeting with the South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at the Pentagon.