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Susan Walsh / AP

Trump's National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster laid out the way the U.S. is thinking about the North Korea problem Wednesday in three main points:

  1. "The North Korea problem is not a problem between North Korea and the United States. It's a problem between North Korea and China — and the world."
  2. A positive gain in the last few months has been "Chinese leadership's recognition that China does have a great deal of control over that situation mainly through the powers of the economic…relationship" with North Korea. This seems to diverge from Trump's stance that China has tried to exert influence but fallen short.
  3. "Denuclearization of the peninsula is the only appropriate and acceptable" solution.

Read more from Axios' Expert Voices on what the U.S. can do about North Korea, here.

On NATO: McMaster affirmed Trump is "absolutely committed to" the mutual defense protocol, known as Article Five.

On Afghanistan: McMaster said the Taliban is taking advantage of the disconnect between military action and political action in Afghanistan. He noted the previous approach of saying "let's talk to you about a political solution…but we're leaving" made little sense to him. "How does that work?"

On Russia: McMaster said the U.S. needs more tools to confront Russia's destabilizing behavior towards the U.S., including in cyberspace.

On budget: McMaster dodged a question about USAID and State Department budget cuts.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.