WRAPUP 6-US, Japan step up defense cooperation to counter N.Korea

Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera attends a news conference at Defence Ministry in Tokyo

President Trump's threats against North Korea are a means to "remind the regime" in Pyongyang what is at stake if it starts a war it can not win, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday.

Japan's Minister of Defence, Itsunori Onodera, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taro Kono, travel to the USA capital this week for "two-plus-two" meetings with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Japanese government announced on Tuesday.

Tillerson added that he had read the remarks, which came during a lengthy interview Bannon gave earlier this week to the liberal American Prospect magazine.

"We are prepared. We are prepared militarily". "Our approach has been endorsed by the president".

"Together, we will deter, and if necessary defeat, any threat", Mattis said in a news conference with Tillerson and their Japanese counterparts following a meeting at the State Department.

"In close collaboration with our allies, there are strong military consequences if the DPRK initiates hostilities", the Pentagon chief told reporters.

The aim of Ri's suggestion was believed to be to rattle Japan by hinting that there is room for negotiation, as Japan, the United States and other countries are stepping up worldwide pressure on North Korea to stop nuclear and missile development by the administration of leader Kim Jong Un.

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Contributing to the concern was Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who this month told a group of current and former senior USA security officials and foreign policy experts that "preventive" war with North Korea was one of the "viable" military options under consideration.

US President Donald Trump warned North Korea last week it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.

"We would take immediate, specific actions to take it down", the USA defense chief said.

Pyongyang's deputy UN ambassador told United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this week that its nuclear weapons programme will never be up for negotiation as long as the U.S. government's "hostile policy and nuclear threat continue".

Just last week, the communist regime threatened to fire four intermediate-range ballistic missiles over Japan into waters near the US territory of Guam. North Korea views such exercises as preparations to invade it. Officials are now looking to do so by the end of this year, the government source said.

Trump has vowed not to allow North Korea to develop nuclear missiles that could hit the mainland United States but Pyongyang sees its nuclear arsenal as protection against the United States and its partners in Asia. In a joint statement, the four officials strongly encouraged China to take decisive measures to urge North Korea to change its course of action.

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