U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday that the international community seeks a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis.
He was speaking en route to Thailand after meeting with his counterparts from South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asian nations at a regional gathering in the Philippines.
"A number of people talked about hoping diplomatic efforts will work, that sanctions will cause them to change course," Mattis told reporters. "Do we have military options in defense if we're attacked, our allies are attacked? Of course we do. But everyone is out for a peaceful resolution. Not rushing to war."
Tensions have escalated in the region following North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile tests, and a war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Asked whether the participants seemed anxious that Trump's rhetoric could lead to a military conflict, Mattis said, "No."
"We've been blunt out of Washington, D.C., with Secretary (of State Rex) Tillerson being sent to Beijing by the president and all," he said. "We are out for a peaceful resolution."
Mattis is set to visit South Korea later this week for annual security talks between the allies.
He declined to go into detail about what will be discussed.
The meeting will come ahead of Trump's first official visit to South Korea and other Asian nations next month.
|This AP photo shows U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations-led defense ministers' meeting in Clark, the Philippines, on Oct. 24, 2017. (Yonhap)|
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