President Donald Trump warned that the U.S. could potentially go to war with North Korea.
"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump told Reuters.
He added: "We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult."
Trump's words follow a Joint Statement by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, in which the three men stated that the goal of the Trump administration's goal is the "stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
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Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests. With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our Allies and the U.S. homeland. North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority. Upon assuming office, President Trump ordered a thorough review of U.S. policy pertaining to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.).
They added: "The President’s approach 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. We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on the D.P.R.K. in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue."
In the interview with Reuters, Trump had empathetic words for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whom the president recognized had to become the leader of his country when he was still a young man.
"He's 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want, but that is not easy, especially at that age," Trump said. "I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit, I'm just saying that's a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he's rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational."
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Meanwhile, countries that are geographically close to North Korea are also putting pressure on the country to relent its aggression.
"There is the possibility and the risk that North Korea could launch an attack on its neighbors," Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told 3AW radio, according to the Guardian. "That is the reason why there is so much effort being put into seeking to stop this reckless and dangerous conduct by the North Korean regime. They are a real threat to the peace and stability in the region and to the whole world."