Back channel could defuse North Korea crisis

North Korea conducts a test launch of a Hwasong-14 ICBM in a KCNA

The UK and the U.S. are working together on the North Korean crisis resolution by peaceful means, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Saturday.

"All the people are rising up across the country to retaliate against the United States thousands of times", Yonhap news agency quoted the Workers' Party newspaper as saying. "It's a good sign" that communication still takes place, he said.

The Associated Press has learned that the Trump administration has quietly engaged in back-channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months.

While the two foes discussed the release of Warmbier in June, it wasn't known that the contacts had continued or expanded in scope. "And it also includes increasing sanctions, increasing pressure on the north, to convince Kim Jong Un that this is not in his interests to continue this path of provocation", he said.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday said the United States is "taking all possible actions" to defend against nuclear threats from North Korea, but declined to say how far the rogue regime would have to go before provoking a response.

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But despite the escalating rhetoric from Trump, McMaster said the threat of war with North Korea has not dramatically increased over the past few days, though he underscored the seriousness of the problem.

"We want to talk about a country that has misbehaved for many, many years - decades actually - through numerous administrations and they didn't want to take on the issue and I had no choice but to take it on and I'm taking it on", he said.

On Wednesday, about 100,000 citizens gathered in Pyongyang to support the government's pledge of retaliation against the US, with smaller rallies held in provincial cities later, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "And it's growing every day, with every missile test, with the ... nuclear tests".

CIA Director Mike Pompeo similarly said Sunday that there is no "imminent" threat of North Korea attacking the USA with a nuclear weapon, though he still expects the country to continue developing its missile program even as other countries call on it to stop. But contacts restarted after Trump's inauguration, according to AP.

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