US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in South Korea on Friday (17 March) to hold discussions amid political uncertainties prevailing in the region. Seoul at present is a political minefield and the situation will test Tillerson's skills, considering his lack of experience as a diplomat.
The former ExxonMobil CEO's two-day visit will focus on measures to build bilateral relations and fend off emerging threats from North Korea.
Tillerson, who arrived at the Osan Air Base around 70kms from Seoul, headed to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on the inter-Korean border – the world's most heavily guarded area.
He is expected to hold talks with South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is also the acting president. Tillerson is expected to hold a press conference ahead of the discussions with his South Korean counterpart.
Earlier, Tillerson was in Japan where he ripped apart Washington's approach to denuclearise North Korea over the last two decades. Without indulging into specifics, Tillerson called for a "new approach" in handling Pyongyang.
"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," Tillerson said, potentially dragging the US and its allies to place them at a point where it is closer to a military response than previously.
Meanwhile, in what seemed a response to Tillerson's remarks, the Minister of the North Korean Embassy in China, Pak Myong-ho said: "The joint military exercises by the hospital forces are aimed at preemptive strikes against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea – North Korea's official name]. Therefore, the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula is under serious threat. Now the situation is already on the brink of nuclear war."