Donald Trump's defence secretary has contradicted the president with the pair offering different opinions on how to tackle the growing problem with North Korea.

In a tweet on 30 August, the president said: "The US has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!"

Those comments suggested that diplomatic solutions were off the table, but this was contracted by Defence Secretary James Mattis, who when asked later that day if there were no more diplomatic solutions, he pointedly said "No."

"We are never out of diplomatic solutions. We continue to work together, and the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations, and our interests," Mattis said.

It came after North Korea engaged in another missile test, this time launching a ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Despite the suggestion that diplomatic options were still open, Mattis failed to reveal any specific plans about how the US would deal with North Korea.

The Trump administration have attempted to exert pressure on Russia and China to mitigate the growing threat from the pariah nation.

Fresh UN sanctions were passed in July which prompted a series of verbal exchanges from both sides of the Pacific with Trump warning North Korea with "fire and fury" after it threatened to attack the US territory of Guam.

Trump Mattis
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Secretary of Defence James Mattis (R) flank US President Donald Trump as he meets with his cabinet at the White House in Washington, 12 June 2017REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque