US President Donald Trump has addressed the difficulties of resolving the crisis on the Korean Peninsula diplomatically. Tensions in the region are growing as Trump toughens his rhetoric toward Pyongyang.
Trump said a "major, major conflict" with Pyongyang was possible in an interview with Reuters news agency on Thursday, not long after Washington said it was pushing members of the international community to put pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and weapons programs.
"We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he told Reuters in the Oval Office, saying that North Korea remained his most significant global challenge.
His comments came the same day China's foreign ministry warned that the situation on the peninsula could escalate. Trump's administration has been pressuring Beijing, Pyongyang's most important ally, to do more to reel in its belligerent neighbor in recent weeks.
"I believe he is trying very hard," Trump said of Chinese President Xi Jinping during the interview. "I know he would like to be able to do something. Perhaps it's possible that he can't. But I think he'd like to be able to do something."
'Sobering' briefing on N. Korea
On Wednesday, Washington announced that it was making a concerted effort to engage its international partners to pressure the North Korean regime "to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue."
Earlier that day, the Trump administration held an hour-long classified briefing on North Korea for all 100 senators. One Democratic leader described the meeting, which outlined Pyongyang's increasing nuclear capabilities, as "sobering."
Ahead of the meeting, the head of the US's Pacific forces said the controversial THAAD missile system, which was deployed earlier in the month, would be operational within days. He said any North Korean missile fired at US forces would be destroyed: "If it flies, it will die."
blc/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)