U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un, are the "primary threats" in the region and the "lead threat globally," rejecting speculation the U.S. is focused on countering China.
Kerry made the remark at a press briefing at the end of President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam that included the lifting of a decades-long embargo on U.S. arms sales to the Southeast Asian nation, a decision seen as a counterweight to an increasingly assertive China.
"We encourage China not to be unilaterally militarizing, unilaterally moving. But we're not focused on China," Kerry said, according to a White House transcript.
"I just can't say it enough. We're focused on this region. And I think the primary threat of the entire region is North Korea, Kim Jong-un and the proliferation activities of the DPRK. That's the primary threat. It's actually perhaps the lead threat globally with respect to one of the two or three currently," he said.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said that Kerry was referring to the North's nuclear program, adding that it's "certainly the leading threat as it relates to nuclear proliferation." (Yonhap)