Photo Credit: USAF / Staff Sgt. Mariko Frazee, Zoe Stagg
US Secy of State Rex Tillerson, Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fumio Kishida, in Japan

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters at a news conference Thursday that the escalating threat from North Korea’s nuclear development program clearly shows a need for a “new approach.”

Speaking with journalists in Tokyo after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, cited “20 years of failed approach” which he said “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.”

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Tillerson is on his first visit to Asia as a Secretary of State. He is scheduled to travel to South Korea and China as well.

Here’s the full transcript of Tillerson’s remarks:

“I think it’s important to recognize that the diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of denuclearization have failed. So we have 20 years of failed approach, and that includes a period in which the United States provided $1.35 billion in assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway. That encouragement has been met with further development of nuclear capabilities, more missile launches, including those of the recent February 11th and March the 5th. In the face of this ever-escalating threat, it is clear that a different approach is required. The purpose of – part of the purpose of my visit to the region is to exchange views on a new approach.

“Foreign Minister Kishida and I had a very open and candid discussion around a different approach. We’ll have further discussions with Prime Minister Abe. I will have further discussions in Seoul, and ultimately, in Beijing as well.”

North Korea has long had a nuclear trade relationship with Iran and with Syria: some North Korean-made parts were found at the site of a nuclear plant in Syria that was destroyed in 2007 by an air strike attributed to the Israel Air Force. Iranian military officers and soldiers have been fighting alongside Syrian regime soldiers since the start of the country’s savage civil war together with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist guerrilla fighters, one of Iran’s numerous proxy groups in the region. Iran is now trying to set up a permanent military presence along Syria’s border with Israel.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.