US wants to bring North Korea back to ‘path of dialogue’

The top US commander in the Asia-Pacific told lawmakers on Wednesday that the goal with North Korea's Kim Jong Un is to "bring him to his senses, not to his knees".
President Donald Trump and Vice-President Pence leave a briefing for Senate members on North Korea.
President Donald Trump and Vice-President Pence leave a briefing for Senate members on North Korea.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States said on Wednesday (April 26) it wants to bring North Korea back to the “path of dialogue” over its nuclear weapons programme and will use diplomatic measures and additional sanctions to increase pressure on the regime.

After briefing senators in a highly unusual meeting at the White House, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a statement that toned down military rhetoric and urged the international community to help find a solution to North Korea’s nuclear programme.

President Donald Trump aims to “pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners,” the statement read.

“We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on the DPRK in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue,” the statement added, using North Korea’s official name.

The latest move comes as tension soars on the Korean peninsula following a series of missile launches by the North and warnings from the Trump administration that military action was an “option on the table.”

Still, Pentagon officials have stressed to Trump there are no easy options for military interventions in North Korea.

Separately, a senior administration official told AFP that the United States is considering adding North Korea to its list of countries that are designated as “state sponsors of terrorism.”

“We are looking at a broad range of options obviously across all elements of national power,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

North Korea had previously been considered a state sponsor of terrorism after the bombing of a South Korean flight in 1987 but then president George W. Bush removed the designation in 2008.

Iran, Syria and Sudan remain on the list.