The United States does not seek to topple the North Korean government and would like dialogue with Pyongyang at some point, but only on the understanding that it can never be a nuclear power, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.
Duterte called Kim a fool, and described him as a child playing with unsafe toys, "You know if that guy, I don't think he is ready but, he is playing with risky toys". "We are not your threat but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond".
U.S. President Donald Trump and his security team had focused on working with China, the North's key trading partner, to fully implement sanctions. The State Department announced last month that Tillerson had made a decision to impose a "geographical travel restriction" on the use of USA passports to visit North Korea following the death in June of American university student Otto Warmbier, who fell into a coma while in North Korean custody.
The secretary also urged China to do more to rein in Pyongyang.
Asked about the SC senator's suggestion, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump has been "very outspoken" about "keeping all options on the table".
It was a decidedly less confrontational tone than that of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who told NBC Tuesday that "there is a military option - to destroy North Korea's program and North Korea itself". China can "influence the North Korean regime in ways that no one else can", he said. He also said President Trump promised him "if there's going to be a war to stop them, it will be over there". "We have differences, but I think if we're not having those differences I'm not sure that I am serving him".
In his rare appearance before reporters at the State Department, Tillerson defended his efforts to translate Trump's "American First" slogan into a foreign policy that can engage other nations. Over the past decade, at least 16 USA citizens have been detained, including Warmbier.
China accounts for 90 per cent of economic activity with North Korea, Tillerson said, adding that the Chinese have been very clear with the United States that they share the same objective of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula.
Differences between Trump, top White House aides and Tillerson and the State Department bubbled to public attention even before a well-publicized spat last month over the Iran deal, which ended with Trump siding with Tillerson while making it clear he wants out of the accord.
While the Trump administration is working with Russia in Syria to fight terrorists and develop cease-fire zones, the USA position remains that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - Russia's ally - can have "no role in the future governing of Syria" and that Iran's forces "must leave and go home". Those categories are journalists, Red Cross officials, humanitarian workers, and individuals whose visit is "otherwise in the national interest".