WASHINGTON: The US will continue to put maximum economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea even as President Donald Trump remains consistent in his position of keeping "all the options on table", the White House has said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump had an incredible team around him and has achieved tremendous accomplishments on the international stage by working with allies and confronting enemies.
"We're going to continue doing that, and we're going to continue doing that as a team with the president leading that effort," she said yesterday.
"We're continuing to put maximum economic and diplomatic pressure on countries like North Korea. We're going to continue to do that, but at the same time, the president is going to keep all of his options on the table. Our position has not changed. It's been very consistent," she said.
North Korea fired a missile over Japan last month and tested a hydrogen bomb, prompting Trump to insist that "all options were on the table" in an implied threat of preemptive military action.
In his maiden address to the UN General Assembly last month, Trump said that no nation on Earth had an interest in seeing "this band of criminals" arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.
The UN Security Council has unanimously passed a USdrafted resolution that imposes strongest sanctions ever on North Korea, with measures targeting its last remaining major exports and reducing about 30 per cent of oil provided to it.
Sanders said Trump was keeping the world from chaos, pushing back on the remarks made by a Republican Senator that some of his senior officials help separate country from chaos.
"I think that the President is the one that's keeping the world from chaos," Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference.
She was responding to a question on a statement made by Senator Bob Corker that some of the senior Trump administration officials were helping separate the country from chaos.
Early this week, Corker, who is Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee had identified those officials as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly.
"I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and chief of staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos, and I support them very much," Corker told reporters on Capitol Hill this week.
Corker, who has announced that he will not seek reelection, said that these three officials "work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth around the world are sound and coherent".
"There are other people within the administration, in my belief, that don't," he said.
Sanders did not respond to questions on Trump's cryptic "calm before the storm" remark he made last evening after his meeting with military generals.
"As we've said many times before, I know the president has, as I have from this podium on quite a few occasions, we're never going to say in advance what the president's going to do. And as he said last night, in addition to those comments, you'll have to wait and see," she said.
Sanders said for Trump protecting American people was an extremely serious job.
He has been very clear that that is his number one priority, and if he feels that action is necessary, he will take it, she said.
The White House also did not respond to questions on Pakistan, in particular the meeting that visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif had with the National Security Advisor H R McMaster.
"Since the president indicated that you wanted Pakistan to move against the agents of chaos within Pakistani territory or areas under Pakistani control, the foreign minister was here in the White House this week to meet General McMaster.
Have you guys seen any change in Pakistani behaviour in those six weeks?" she was asked.
"Nothing specific that I can weigh in to at this time.
But we'll certainly keep you posted," Sanders said in response.