Mattis says USA war with North Korea would be "catastrophic"

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North Korea "should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people", Mattis said in an August 9 statement.

"There are no mixed messages" on North Korea, the president told reporters from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The visit came amid rising tensions between the nations over a series of North Korean missile tests and increased aggression that prompted President Trump to threaten the Asian nation with "fire and fury".

Earlier this week, Gen. Kim Rak-Gyom, who heads North Korea's rocket command, said in a statement carried by state media that Pyongyang was "about to take" military action near the US territory of Guam.

The president's public comments "undermine anyone in Pyongyang who's interested in seeing if there's something to be gained in a dialogue with the United States", he said.

But asked whether the United States was ready if North Korea did commit a hostile act, he responded: 'We are ready'.

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Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended Trump's remarks.

Speaking to reporters in Mountain View, California, Mattis said that USA efforts on North Korea were now focused on diplomacy, while stressing that his "mission" was to make sure Washington "is to have military options should they be needed".

China has urged the United States and North Korea on Friday to be "cautious" with their words and actions after the two sides stepped up their bellicose rhetoric over Pyongyang's weapons programme.

He pointed out that the UN Security Council unanimously voted last week to characterize North Korea's statements as a "threat to the world's community". Guam Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo says he coordinates with Homeland Security and the US military on preparedness procedures.

The two discussed responses to North Korean provocations and the security situation on the Korean peninsula, he said.

"The [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons", he said, using the name North Korea calls itself.

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