US emphasizes agreement on North Korea after Moscow rips 'aggressive rhetoric'

US emphasizes agreement on North Korea after Moscow rips 'aggressive rhetoric'
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The U.S. on Wednesday emphasized agreement between Washington and Moscow concerning North Korea's nuclear weapons program after criticism from Russia.

The State Department issued a statement emphasizing unity after Moscow said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned "Washington's aggressive rhetoric" during a phone call on Tuesday with Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonFormer WH adviser: Trump will want to rejoin Paris climate pact by 2020 Why the US should lead on protecting Rohingya Muslims 'Bolivarian Diaspora' can no longer be ignored MORE.

"The two discussed concerns related to the DPRK’s destabilizing nuclear program and emphasized that neither the United States nor Russia accepts the DPRK as a nuclear power," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement, using an acronym for North Korea's official name.

"Both sides agreed that they will continue to work toward a diplomatic solution to achieve a denuclearized Korean peninsula," she continued.


Nauert's comments came a full day after Russia's foreign ministry said Lavrov ripped Tillerson during the call for "Washington's aggressive rhetoric" on North Korea.

American and Russian diplomats also discussed the continuing conflict in Ukraine during their call Tuesday, according to the State Department.

Tillerson "requested that Russia return its representatives to the Joint Center on Coordination and Control and lower the level of violence," his spokeswoman said.

The secretary of State has been increasingly critical of Russia's role in the Ukrainian conflict, saying Moscow's actions have further complicated the situation.

"When one country invades another, that is a difference that is hard to look past or to reconcile," he said earlier this month.

ABC News reported last week that President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE is expected to authorize the sale of antitank missiles to Ukraine's military after the administration approved the sale of lethal arms to Kiev amid the battle with pro-Russian separatists. 

Tillerson and Lavrov on Tuesday also discussed the roles of Washington and Moscow in the Syrian conflict, which has proven to be a point of contention between the two countries. 

Moscow has sided with Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Washington has supported Syrian rebels. Russia and the U.S. have found common ground on combating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters in the war-torn country.