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The US says it will tighten sanctions on North Korea and step up diplomatic moves aimed at pressuring the country to end its nuclear and missile programmes.

President Donald Trump’s strategy was announced after a special briefing for all 100 US senators.

A joint statement issued by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said “The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies.”

The statement added the president’s approach aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with allies and regional partners.

Earlier, the top US commander in the Pacific defended the deployment of an advanced missile defence system in South Korea.

Tensions have risen amid fears the North is planning new weapons tests.

Democratic Senator Christopher Coons told reporters that military options were discussed at the special presidential briefing for senators. The North is already under strict UN sanctions over its weapons programmes.