Mattis says he didn’t contradict Trump on North Korea, media ‘widely misinterpreted’ remarks

DCNFRyan Pickrell, DCNF

Secretary of Defense James Mattis expressed frustration with the media Thursday after numerous reports surfaced claiming that he contradicted the president on North Korea.

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that “talking is not the answer” with North Korea, signaling that the president is abandoning the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/902875515534626817

Not long after, Mattis explained that the U.S. is “never out of diplomatic solutions,” leading many reporters to conclude that he and Trump are not on the same page when it comes to North Korea, one of the most serious international security threats the U.S. is presently addressing.

“It was widely interpreted as –,” a reporter said Thursday before Mattis interrupted. “Well, it was widely misinterpreted. I can’t help people who misinterpret things.”

“I’ll do my best to call it like I see it,” the defense secretary said, “but right now, if I say ‘six’ and the president says ‘half a dozen,’ they’re going to say I disagree with him.”

“There was nothing contradictory there,” he added.

Mattis explained that there is more to diplomacy than dialogue, stating that now is not the time for talks.

“I was asked if there were any diplomatic efforts left, and I said, ‘Of course,’” Mattis told reporters. “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.”

“The president’s made very clear that we’re not talking to North Korea right now, and my job is to provide military options, but we’re never out of diplomatic — diplomatic is a lot more than the narrow slice of talking to North Korea,” Mattis said.

“There was no contradiction at all there,” he concluded.

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