President Trump's top security advisor, Lt Gen HR McMaster told ABC News that the US and China are "working on a range of options" on North Korea, adding that there is consensus that this was a "situation that just can't continue" as tensions mount over the country's nuclear and missile programs. McMaster also called the regime in North Korea "hostile" and said said that Sunday's failed test fit into a pattern of "provocative and destabilizing and threatening behavior on the part of the North Korean regime."
"There is an international consensus now, including the Chinese leadership, that this is a situation that just cannot continue," McMaster said adding that "this latest missile test just fits into a pattern of provocative and destabilizing and threatening behavior on the part of the North Korean regime."
McMaster also said that North Korea's Kim is unpredictable and has demonstrated his brutality.
H.R. McMaster praises "warm" Trump-Xi relationship, says "we'll see what happens" on whether US can get China to pressure North Korea. pic.twitter.com/ITvQprzKYZ— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 16, 2017
The comments followed a statement by a White House advisor who told Reuters that the "U.S. doesn’t need to expend any resources reacting to failed missile launch by North Korea" who added that the U.S. wasn’t surprised by the launch and was “anticipating” it.
Additionally, during the interview, McMaster said the U.S. relationship with Russia can only improve. McMaster was asked about what gave President Trump confidence that things would "work out fine" between the U.S. and Russia," referring to a tweet last week from the president. "Well, when relations are at the lowest point, there’s nowhere to go but up," McMaster said.
He said he thinks Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Russia was "perfectly timed."
"Russia has given support to a murderous regime in Syria that has perpetuated a civil war and as cycle of violence that," McMaster said. "Along with obviously the brutal - the brutal efforts of and actions of ISIS, have brought suffering to so many people, have created a crisis within Syria that has bled over into Iraq, and of course has bled over into neighboring countries and into Europe and so forth."
McMaster on China's "isolating" Russia in U.N. vote: "What club to you want to be in? The Russian-Bolivian club, or the club" with the U.S.? pic.twitter.com/PgoBX2cXvr— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) April 16, 2017
McMaster called Russia's support for that "kind of horrible regime" something that "has to be drawn into question."
"And so I think it’s time though, now, to have those tough discussions Russia. And there’s nobody to do it than our Secretary of State," he said. "And then also to find areas of cooperation."
Last week Trump tweeted that things will "work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. "At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace," the president tweeted.
Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2017
McMaster also touched on US involvement in the Syria proxy war and when asked if the US needs more troops in Syria, he responded that "that remains to be seen" adding "I don't think so"
As a reminder, last week several unconfirmed reports from both Mike Chernovic and Bloomberg suggested that McMaster is pushing for anywhere between 50,000 and 150,000 more troops in Syria.
McMaster is currently in Afghanistan where he met with officials in Kabul amid questions over the new administration's plans for the military mission in Afghanistan after American forces unleashed a huge bomb there on militants. McMaster met President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials to discuss bilateral ties, security, counter- terrorism, reforms, and development, according to a statement on the palace's Twitter account.
The visit by H.R. McMaster, the first high-level visit by a Trump official, came just days after the U.S. military sparked controversy by dropping a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used in combat, during an operation on Thursday against Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan.
As Reuters notes, while military officials said the strike was based solely on tactical needs, it led to speculation that Trump's defence advisers are planning to escalate the war against militants in Afghanistan.
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Earlier on Sunday, Trump tweeted that he was working with China "on the North Korean problem" suggesting that this was quid-pro-quo in exchange for not calling China a currency manipulator.
Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2017
In a separate tweet Trump also said that "Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before. Frankly, we have no choice!"
Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before. Frankly, we have no choice!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2017