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

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

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 TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump 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 TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal 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.