US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed on Thursday the importance of the US working with Japan to counter perceived threats from North Korea.

Tillerson was speaking in Tokyo on the opening leg of his first visit to Asia as US secretary of state.

Speaking at a news conference following talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Tillerson said the escalating threat from North Korea’s nuclear program shows a clear need for a “new approach.”

Tillerson pointed out that two decades of diplomatic and other efforts made by the US to bring North Korea to a point of denuclearisation have failed.

“So we have 20 years of failed approach,” Tillerson said.

“That includes a period where the United States has provided $1.35 billion in assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway.”

Regional Visit Targets North Korea

“In the face of this ever-escalating threat, it is clear that a different approach is required. Part of the purpose of my visit to the region is to exchange views on a new approach,” Tillerson said.

North Korea launched ballistic missiles twice in three weeks and said that it’s close to testing a missile that could reach the US.

Tillerson also said the US welcomes an increased Japanese commitment to its “roles and responsibilities” within its alliance with the US.

The new secretary of state will visit South Korea and China later in the week.

He will try to convince Seoul about countering North Korea’s growing nuclear prowess, and press China to do more on one of the most serious security threats facing President Donald Trump.

“We look to China to fulfil its obligations and fully implement the sanctions called for” in United Nations resolutions, Tillerson said in response to a question about how it will get China on the same page as the United States when it comes to North Korea.

China’s assertiveness in the East China Sea, where it is having a territorial row with Japan, and the South China Sea, where it has disputes with the Philippines and several other Southeast Asian nations, will also be on Tillerson’s agenda during his visit to the Asian nations.

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