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Tillerson: Americans should 'sleep well at night' amid North Korea crisis

Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While President Trump delivered a brash warning of “fire and fury,” Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state, is pushing for cooler heads and continued diplomacy.

The belligerent message from an American president was meant to match the aggressive, at times ridiculous, rhetoric of the North Korean state, according to Tillerson.

“What the president was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea in a language that Kim Jong-un would understand,” Tillerson told reporters as he traveled back from Southeast Asia.

He stopped down in Guam, a small Pacific island and an American territory, just hours after North Korea threatened to strike it. But he had no qualms about safety while there, he said.

“I do not believe there is any imminent threat in my own view,” the U.S.’s top diplomat said, adding later, “Americans should sleep well at night. I have no concerns about this particular rhetoric over the last few days.”

But back home, there is great concern over the tough talk from Trump.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said Tuesday from his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. “They will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Whether intentional or not, those remarks escalated the back-and-forth between the U.S. and North Korea, hours after reports emerged that North Korea may have developed the technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and fit it onto a ballistic missile.

The newly public report from U.S. intelligence agencies seemed to spur Trump, but Tillerson called for full steam ahead on his policy of “peaceful pressure” after a series of meetings at a major summit in the Philippines.

“We do not seek to be a threat to them, but we have to respond to the serious threats that they make towards us,” he said.

At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathering, Tillerson said the U.S. had success in pushing for increased isolation of North Korea, including the full implementation of new United Nations sanctions.

In a win for Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, the U.N. Security Council voted Saturday to add new sanctions against North Korea, targeting its export revenue sources.

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