Rex Tillerson Thinks American Foreign Policy Should be Separate From 'American Values'

But, Trump said, "We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very hard". He said China has an "important role" to play, and ASEAN has not yet discussed reducing the North Korean diplomatic presence in their countries.

"We really have to understand, in each country or each region of the world that we're dealing with, what are our national security interests, what are our economic prosperity interests, and then, as we can advocate and advance our values, we should", he said.

The United States is asking Asean member states to review their diplomatic relationships with North Korea and fully implement United Nations sanctions to help isolate the Pyongyang regime.

During his speech, Tillerson added that not always asking foreign countries to adopt USA values "doesn't mean that we leave those values on the sidelines".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has pressed Southeast Asian states to prevent North Korea's embassies from pursuing alleged commercial activities that go beyond "diplomatic needs" and may aid its "nuclear aspirations".

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday outlined for his staff how an "America First" agenda translates into foreign policy, but did not address the Trump administration's proposed budget cuts, which worry many diplomats.

Mr Tillerson also called on Asean countries to fully implement United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang, which is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the USA, and to show a united front on the issue, Mr Murphy said. Several ASEAN members have competing claims to the territory.

He said the USA objective was to cut North Korea's economic ties overseas, including the export of workers, mainly to China and Russian Federation, whose wages are used as a source of foreign income by the cash-strapped government. "Our immediate concern is that the tension in the peninsula does not increase, because the more it increases the more danger of some kind of miscalculation".

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Balakrishnan, whose country signed the TPP, stressed the importance of U.S. -ASEAN business ties - annual trade of $100-billion supporting half a million and $274-billion of U.S. investment.

The meeting came on the heels of a trip to Jakarta by US Vice-President Mike Pence during which he visited the Asean secretariat, and confirmed that President Donald Trump would attend the East Asia and US-Asean summits in the Philippines in November.

On the issue of the South China Sea, ASEAN has adopted a cautious approach recently, with a weekend summit avoiding references to China's building and arming of artificial islands there.

Analysts see growing concerns in the region that Trump has ditched former U.S. President Barack Obama's "pivot" to Asia and more countries being pulled into Beijing's orbit as a result.

Manila hopes talks on the framework for the code of conduct would be concluded during its 2017 Asean chairmanship.

A 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea is legally non-binding.

"We're going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed", Tillerson said, in remarks that critics said invited a military confrontation.