State Secretary Tillerson takes only one reporter to Asia

Jay Jacobs
March 17, 2017

His visit comes after North Korea said earlier this year it was ready to test a ballistic missile that could threaten the USA mainland.

More than twenty years after the USA agreed to fund a supposedly peaceful nuclear-energy program in North Korea in exchange for promises not to develop nuclear weapons, Rex Tillerson declared diplomacy dead in dealing with the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang.

"North Korea and its people need not fear the U.S or their neighbors in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea", said Tillerson.

"I think Secretary Tillerson will make the usual representations in Beijing, namely China's unwillingness to rein in North Korea and its South China Sea island-building", says Sean King, senior vice president of NY political consultancy Park Strategies.

"Last week, the State Department officially offered McPike an opportunity to cover the secretary's upcoming trip to Asia".

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters this week that efforts to convince China to pressure North Korea were the "looming challenge" in trans-Pacific relations. The leading candidate is said to be leery of defense cooperation with Japan and the well. A statement by the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said the three allies were conducting drills Wednesday in seas east of the divided Korean Peninsula and north of Japan to promote interoperability. "The more that we put into the State Department's diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget", he said.

Tillerson To Cut Teeth With First Trip To Volatile E
An official explained that the delegation would be flying on a smaller plane than normal and that press access would be limited. The travel offer came from the State Department, and "after editorial consultation, McPike accepted the seat", he said.

Secretary Rex Tillerson was in Tokyo, on the first leg of his Asia trip, when the White House proposed a 28 percent cut to the State Department budget in its preliminary budget. Tokyo was his first stop, where he met with Kishida and later with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"We've been very clear, frankly, that this is a smaller footprint all around, and this is the Secretary's decision, to travel with a smaller footprint", Toner said.

He said the department would undergo a review of programs and would "be much more effective, much more efficient, and be able to do a lot with fewer dollars".

Kishida said he had conveyed Japan's views to Tillerson for consideration during the policy review, but he didn't go into details.

Washington initially took a tougher tack under Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, but later pivoted to dialogue, including removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

North Korea has long had a nuclear trade relationship with Iran and with Syria: some North Korean-made parts were found at the site of a nuclear plant in Syria that was destroyed in 2007 by an air strike attributed to the Israel Air Force. Mr Tillerson seems to be continuing a long-standing United States policy of trying to persuade China to exert more pressure on Pyongyang.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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