| SEOUL, March 17
SEOUL, March 17 U.S. Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson arrived in South Korea on Friday for the second leg of
an Asian tour focussed on finding a "new approach" for North
Korea after what he described as two decades of failed efforts
to denuclearize the reclusive state.
Tillerson, a former oil executive with no prior diplomatic
experience, began his first Asian visit as secretary of state in
Japan on Wednesday and travels to China on Saturday.
In South Korea, he will visit the heavily fortified border
with North Korea, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), before meeting
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn,
who is also acting president.
In Tokyo on Thursday, Tillerson said 20 years of diplomatic
and other efforts, including a period when the United States
provided North Korea with $1.35 billion in assistance "to take a
different pathway", had come to nothing.
"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," he
told a news conference, his first as secretary of state.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a series of
missile launches since the beginning of last year.
Last week, it launched four more ballistic missiles and is
working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the
Washington has been pressing Beijing to do more to rein in
North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes. Tillerson is
expected to tell the Chinese leadership that the United States
intends to increase missile defences in the region, despite
China's opposition, a U.S. official told Reuters in Washington.
South Korea, one of the staunchest U.S. allies in Asia, has
agreed to deploy a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense
(THAAD) missile system in South Korea.
China says the system's radar is a threat to its security.
Tillerson faces a delicate task in South Korea, which is in
political turmoil after former President Park Geun-hye was
ousted last week in a corruption scandal. A presidential
election will be held on May 9.
A South Korean liberal opposition politician, Moon Jae-in,
who has raised questions about the THAAD deployment, is leading
in the opinion polls.
China resents U.S. pressure to do more on North Korea and
says it is doing all it can but will not take steps to
threatened the livelihoods of the North Korean people.
China has urged North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile
tests and said South Korea and the United States should stop
joint military exercises and seek talks instead.
Chinese state media reiterated on Friday that the main
problem was between the United States and North Korea, and
denounced what it called the "throwing of dirty water" at China
on the North Korean issued by Washington and Seoul.
"They seem to have forgotten that the root of the nuclear
issue on the peninsula is the deeply ingrained mutual distrust
between the United States and North Korea and the long-time,
intense confrontation between North and South," the overseas
edition of the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily
said in a front-page commentary.
Tillerson will also meet commanders of the 28,500 U.S.
troops in South Korea.
(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by