Minutes after president says ‘talking is not the answer’ to tensions with Pyongyang, Def Secretary James Mattis says diplomatic solutions never run out
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
Donald Trump appeared to rule out contacts with the North Korean regime in the wake of its missile test over Japan on Wednesday, declaring: “Talking is not the answer.”
Minutes later, however, the defense secretary, James Mattis, flatly contradicted the president’s blanket statement, telling reporters: “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions.”
Such sharply conflicting statements have become a norm for the Trump administration, but it is unclear how they are being read by the regime in Pyongyang and US allies in the region.
Trump’s declaration, delivered as usual in the form of a tweet, appeared to reflect frustration that his threats of “fire and fury” against North Korea earlier this month had failed to deter it from carrying out missile tests. He had recently claimed, after a lull of more than three weeks in such tests, that Kim Jong-un “is starting to respect us”.