Despite a respected former general saying war is just months away, Rex Tillerson says US is still trying to end stand-off with diplomacy.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on October 16, 2017

Rex Tillerson denies Donald Trump has tunnel-vision for war, saying he’s been instructed by the President to keep discussions open.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, the US Secretary of State said Trump “has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts… those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops”.

Responding to concerns that Trump may have undermined his diplomatic position with North Korea via tweets indicating it was a waste of time negotiating with Kim Jong-un, Mr Tillerson said it was important for diplomacy to be paired with muscle-flexing.

“The President wants to be clear with Kim Jong-un and the regime in North Korea that he has military preparations ready to go, and he has those military options on the table, and we have spent substantial time actually perfecting those. But be clear, the President has also made it clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically, he is not seeking to go to war.”

The President has also made it clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically, he is not seeking to go to war.

We’ll be at war by June

Mr Tillerson’s comments on Sunday (US time) follow those from respected former US General Barry McCaffrey, who told MSNBC he expected war to be waged with North Korea by summer (June) 2018 with Trump at the helm.

He said: “I think the President has lost almost all credibility with the international community. They’re going to wait him out.

“I wouldn’t overstate the damage he is doing… President Trump is no longer considered to be a rational actor in this dialogue.

“The lack of a diplomatic serious engagement strategy in my view has us sliding toward war by next summer.”

Australia now in North Korea’s sights

Over the weekend, Pyongyang threatened Australia with “disaster” if the country continues to support the US.

“Lately, Australia is showing dangerous moves of zealously joining the frenzied political and military provocations of the US against the DPRK,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a statement on Saturday.

“Should Australia continue to follow the US in imposing military, economic and diplomatic pressure upon the DPRK despite our repeated warnings, they will not be able to avoid a disaster.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop assured Australia’s allies that the nation wouldn’t be scared off.

“Australia is not a primary target and North Korea has made threats against Australia before,” Ms Bishop told reporters in Sydney.

“But North Korea’s threats only strengthen our resolve to find a peaceful solution to the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, caused entirely by North Korea’s illegal, threatening and provocative behaviour.”

To see how the tensions have escalated since New Year’s Day, check out The CEO Magazine’s timeline.