Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that calling his recent comments on North Korea contradicting to President Donald Trump is “ludicrous”, The Hill reported.
President Trump said in a tweet that the United States “has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!”
When asked, Mattis said that the U.S. is “never out of diplomatic solutions.”
The defense secretary spoke to reporters before meeting his South Korean counterpart at the Pentagon and was asked to comment on the president’s remarks and whether they ruled out a diplomatic solution to North Korea’s ongoing missile tests.
“I was asked if there were any diplomatic efforts left, and I said, ‘of course,’ ” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.
“Diplomatic can include economic sanctions, United Nations, not just talking — it didn’t contradict anything the president said. We’re not talking to the North Koreans right now.”
When a reporter pressed that the remark was “widely interpreted” as contradicting Trump, Mattis replied, “It was widely misinterpreted then.”
He added, “I can’t help people who misinterpret things. I’ll do my best to call it like I see it, but right now if I say ‘six’ and the president says ‘half-a-dozen,’ they’re gonna say I disagree with him.”