Tillerson: State Department funding 'simply not sustainable'

Tillerson Said to Favor Leaner Meaner State Department

"The US-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region", Tillerson told Kishida, also stressing the importance of three-way cooperation with South Korea.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo on March 15, 2017.

In Tokyo, Tillerson cited North Korea's missile launches this year as evidence of the worsening threat.

Policymakers and US reporters were eager to hear Tillerson speak, given that in his more than 50 days in office he had not expanded on the Trump administration's foreign policy.

Toner said a seat was given to a reporter from the Independent Journal Review, or IJR, "as part of an effort to include a broader representation of US media".

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"I will have conversations with China on further actions it can take", Tillerson said.

In that context, Tillerson said trilateral cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the U.S.is extremely important, urging Seoul and Tokyo to settle a still-lingering row over the "comfort women" issue by observing a 2015 bilateral agreement. Tillerson will visit the country on March 18.

He also said that the United States will continue to work closely with Japan and South Korea in countering the threat, but also extended an olive branch to the country's people. "On North Korea, we share stance that we can not absolutely accept Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs". Moreover, South Korea is now in the midst of changing administration and not ready to make new initiatives with the DPRK, Paal said. "As time goes by, there will be fewer military conflicts that the US will be directly engaged in".

"I think Secretary Tillerson will make the usual representations in Beijing, namely China's unwillingness to rein in North Korea and its South China Sea island-building", says Sean King, senior vice president of NY political consultancy Park Strategies.

Indeed, the visit will help dispel the cloud hanging over the bilateral ties due to the tough rhetoric made by Trump during and after his campaign. "I will have further discussions in Seoul, and ultimately, in Beijing as well".

S.Korean prosecutors to summon ousted president Park over corruption scandal
Supporters of South Korea's ousted leader Park Geun-hye gather outside her private home in Seoul on March 14, 2017. The team plans to look into whether other local conglomerates, including SK, Lotte and CJ, also bribed Park.

And China has its own problems with United States trade policy.

After the Xi-Trump phone talk, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held his first meeting with Tillerson in Germany on February 17.

Donald Trump has tweeted that China needs to be "taken on" and decried the country's "military complex" in the South China Sea. The U.S. president's phone call to his Chinese counterpart last month helped ease tension over Taiwan - which China sees as part of its turf but whose self-rule Washington respects. The real show time is Saturday when he reaches China.

"We're going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed", Mr Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, likening it to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

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