Rex Tillerson: Military Action Against North Korea Is 'On the Table'

China and the USA on Saturday agreed to jointly address the threats posed by North Korea's provocative nuclear and missile programmes as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that tensions in the region have spiked to "dangerous levels".

Tillerson was speaking at a news conference following talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, the start of his first trip to Asia as secretary of state.

"If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table", Tillerson said. "All options are on the table", Tillerson said, adding that threats against the US or South Korea "would be met with an appropriate response".

Wang said China had made an "important contribution" to supporting USA engagement with Pyongyang but stressed it was, at its core, an issue between the United States and North Korea.

At least in public, Tillerson adopted a far different tone than that of his boss, US President Donald Trump, instead saying that the United States looked forward to stronger ties with China.

"[The] overall China-US relationship really needs better clarity that can only be achieved by a meeting between our two leaders - a face-to-face meeting - and some time for them to be together and some time for us to exchange views", he said.

"There has been a narrative in the West suggesting that China holds the key to the North Korea nuclear issue. China has done little to help", Trump's tweet said. He also endorsed the "One China" policy, which has governed relations between the United States, China and Taiwan for decades, after questioning its legitimacy shortly after his election.

Tillerson also discussed the disputed South China Sea issue with Wang yesterday.

He also stressed that the missile shield is for defensive purposes, not targeting anything other than missiles coming from the North. "I'm sorry, but the United States and South Korea don't have the right to demand this of China", it said in an editorial.

The two sides appeared to have made some progress or put aside differences on hard issues ahead of a planned summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Beijing, Victor Gao, director of the China National Association of International Studies, said: "US-China trade right now is worth nearly $600bn and it is a fact that China has a huge surplus in the trade with the US".

On the campaign trail past year, candidate Donald Trump pilloried China as a security threat and, particularly, a stealer of American jobs.

Wang said United Nations resolutions on North Korea both mapped out sanctions and called for efforts to resume efforts for a negotiated settlement.

Adding to the tension is the fact that China is upset with South Korea for installing a USA anti-missile system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Device (THAAD).

In addition to its two nuclear tests a year ago, the Korea has carried out numerous missile launches and says it's working on a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach America. Diplomatic sources told VOA the meeting from April 6-7 will take place at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.