US insists military ready to counter North Korea
Senior US officials insisted they are ready to respond to any North Korean attack Thursday, after a White House aide dismissed talk of a "military option."
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are trying to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program and come to the table.
While they stress they want to convince Kim Jong-Un's regime through diplomatic means of the need to disarm, they have not dropped the threat of military action.
But their stance was partly undermined on Wednesday when President Donald Trump's strategy chief, Steve Bannon, told a news magazine: "There's no military solution."
A day later, Mattis and Tillerson faced questions about Bannon's remarks as they appeared with their Japanese counterparts at a State Department press conference.
"I don't want to comment on what Mr Bannon's remarks were in that particular interview," Tillerson said.
"I think we have been quite clear as to what the policy and the posture towards North Korea is," he said. "Our approach has been endorsed by the president."
Tillerson warned again that North Korea faced a "bleak future" if it does not agree to negotiate disarmament, and Mattis insisted that US regional allies are ready.
"In close collaboration with our allies, there are strong military consequences if the DPRK initiates hostilities," the Pentagon chief told reporters.