US national security adviser HR McMaster has said the international community is facing its “last best chance” to avoid military confrontation over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Donald Trump’s top security aide was appearing on stage in Washington DC alongside his British counterpart, Theresa May’s national security adviser Mark Sedwill.
It was the first time the countries’ national security advisers have spoken in public together.
Despite tensions between London and Washington over Trump’s Britain First retweets and his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the two stressed the strength of the relationship.
Mr McMaster, a former US Army general, was fiercely critical of Russia and China for “undermining the international order” and said Beijing – which he accused of “economic aggression” – had a vital role to play in averting conflict with North Korea.
He said: “It is time for all nations to do more beyond UN Security Council resolutions to make the most of what might be our last best chance to avoid military conflict.”
He said Mr Trump’s calls for China to exert more pressure on Pyongyang were in the global interest.
“The President is not asking President Xi for a favour, it is in both of our interests to resolve this problem,” he added.
“The old language was that this is a problem between the United States and North Korea. That’s not the problem. This is a problem between North Korea and the world.”
Mr McMaster insisted regime change in Pyongyang was “not our policy”.
Mr Sedwill said: “An intercontinental nuclear ballistic missile that can reach the continent of the United States can reach the continent of Europe too.
“So this isn’t a US problem or a China problem it is a global problem and it is one we all have to contribute to resolving and we’re working hand in glove under US leadership to do that.”
Mr McMaster did not refer directly to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, something recognised by the US intelligence community, but he did blast Moscow.
He said: “We are facing a threat from Russia that involves also so-called new generation warfare.
“These are very sophisticated campaigns of subversion, disinformation and propaganda, using cyber tools operating across multiple domains.
“It is an attempt to divide our communities within our nations and pit them against each other and try to create a crisis of confidence.”
He said President Trump would lay out his administration’s national security strategy in a speech next week.
Mr McMaster revealed it would be based on “co-operation with reciprocity”, adding: “Geopolitics are back and they are back with a vengeance.”
On the so-called “special relationship”, Mr McMaster said: “I’m confident that our relationship remains stronger than ever.”
Meanwhile, Mr Sedwill described the leadership the US offered as “indispensable”.