UPDATE : 2018.1.20 SAT 12:39
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U.S. senator slams Trump again over N.K. policy

A U.S. Republican senator called out President Donald Trump again on Sunday, saying the commander-in-chief is hampering diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear crisis with North Korea.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who has recently been involved in a personal feud with Trump, reiterated his argument as the president prepares for his first official visit to Asia later this week.

"When our secretary of state is sitting down with a partner that matters most -- China -- trying to negotiate something that would resolve and keep us from going into military conflict with North Korea, which brings in South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia, and he's knee-capped by the president, it hurts our nation. It hurts our efforts," the senator told CBS.

This AP file photo shows Sen. Bob Corker. (Yonhap)

"It leads us more fully towards the conflict that most of us would like to see resolved in another way. The tweets that are sent out mocking a leader of another country raises tensions in the region," he added, referring to Trump's references to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as "Little Rocket Man."

Trump also said last month that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was "wasting his time" trying to talk to Kim over the regime's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

He made the remark on Twitter a day after Tillerson told reporters in Beijing that the U.S. was "probing" to see if Pyongyang was interested in talks.

Tensions have run high as North Korea has tested ballistic missiles and what it claims was a hydrogen bomb, in pursuit of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the mainland U.S.

Corker said Trump is "exhibiting some of those same tendencies" as the North's "erratic leader."

"It creates an air that leads again, more fully towards conflict, where what we need to be doing is supporting the efforts that Secretary Tillerson and Secretary (of Defense Jim) Mattis, who is involved in this diplomacy, are carrying out," he said.

Mattis emphasized during a trip to Seoul that ended Saturday that the U.S. is still focused on using diplomacy to denuclearize the North, although it is ready to use military options if necessary.

Hwi Won  edt@koreapost.com

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