"In my discussion with Secretary (Rex) Tillerson and Foreign Minister Kang (Kyung-wha), the aim was to ensure a peaceful negotiated outcome to the current tensions", the Aussie foreign minister said after being asked about how likely it was the countries would use military options against North Korea.
If confirmed, the reported hacking attack by the North would be a major blow for South Korea at a time when its relations with rival North Korea are at a low point.
Two supersonic USA bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula in their first nighttime training mission with South Korean forces, a clear warning to North Korea as tensions spike over its nuclear weapons program.
South Korean defense authorities on Wednesday said the bombers staged a simulated air-to-ground missile firing drill with two South Korean fighters over the Sea of Japan.
Fears the crisis could spiral into open conflict have risen as the communist state demonstrated rapid progress in its efforts to develop a nuclear-tipped missile that could target the USA mainland despite several rounds of punishing United Nations and other worldwide sanctions against it. The South has taken an increasingly aggressive stance toward the North's belligerence amid back-and-forth threats of war between North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump.
The defense minister announced, meanwhile, that a group of Australian military forces will soon arrive in South Korea as part of its Indo-Pacific defense activities.
United States and South Korean wartime operational plans, including a plan to wipe out the North Korean leadership, were stolen by North Korean hackers previous year, a South Korean ruling party lawmaker said on Wednesday.
The United States has flown two supersonic heavy bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force against Pyongyang, staging the first nighttime joint aviation exercises with Japan and South Korea.
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"I made the decision. because I felt that the presence will be inconsistent with Australia's stated aim of placing maximum diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea", Bishop said.
The secretive state has been suspected of carrying out cyber attacks on South Korean electric utilities as well as on other government and financial institutions.
A pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang's leadership would be hard to undertake, but it's widely seen as the most realistic of the limited military options Seoul has to deny a nuclear attack from its rival.
Former US President Jimmy Carter has intervened successfully in North Korea in the past and could prove acceptable to the isolated nation's dictator Kim Jong Un as a peace negotiator.
Carter's track record will make him even more palatable to the North, as he stepped in previously, in 1994, when then-US President Bill Clinton was drawing up plans for an attack on North Korea's nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.
About 235 gigabytes worth of military data was stolen by the hackers, Rhee told CNN. Other stolen data included contingency plans for South Korean special forces and information on military facilities and power plants, he said.
Professor Park, who first claimed that Carter is considering travelling to Pyongyang, has visited North Korea on at least 50 occasions and Shigemura suggested that the idea may have actually originated in Pyongyang.