Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to ease tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, declaring at a State Department press briefing Aug. 2 that the two countries are not enemies.
Hostilities intensified after North Korea tested another inter-continental ballistic missile July 28, its second successful test in less than a month, CNS News reported.
Washington "does not seek a regime change" in Pyongyang, and is not hoping to immediately unify the Korean peninsula or for "an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel," said Tillerson, CNS reported.
The Secretary of State focused on the need for a diplomatic solution.
"We're trying to convey to the North Koreans, we are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond," he added.
Tillerson's conciliatory tone came just hours after Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina stated that President Donald Trump has told him that military plans for a war with North Korea are well advanced. The latest missile test ordered by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has led experts to believe that the country could target U.S. cities.
"If there's going to be a war to stop him, it's going to be over there," Graham added, referring to what Trump had allegedly told him. "If thousands die, they're going to die over there -- and he's told me that to my face."
Tillerson did not mention Graham's comments during his appearance.
As well as criticizing North Korea following its latest ICBM test, Trump also took aim at China.
"I am very disappointed in China," the president tweeted. "Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet ... they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem."
Tillerson struck a different tone, stressing that Washington did not hold Beijing responsible for Pyongyang's actions.
"But we do believe China has a special and unique relationship, because of this significant economic activity, to influence the North Korean regime in ways that no one else can," Tillerson added.
Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned media outlet Xinhua criticized Trump for his "emotional venting" over North Korea, the Independent reported. The editorial argued that the U.S. had to accept some responsibility for the crisis.
"What the peninsula needs is immediately stamping out the fire, not adding kindling or, even worse, pouring oil on the flames," stated Xinhua.