U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has asked for an intelligence briefing on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, Reuters reported Sunday.
"Trump's first, and at that time only, request for a special classified intelligence briefing was for one on North Korea and its nuclear weapons program," the news agency said citing a senior U.S. intelligence official. "North Korea and its nuclear program has also been of interest to retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Trump's choice for national security advisor."
The U.S. State Department swiftly condemned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's claim in his New Year's address that the North is close to test-launching a ballistic missile that can reach the U.S. mainland.
"We call on all states to use every available channel and means of influence to make clear to the [North] and its enablers that launches using ballistic missile technology are unacceptable, and take steps to show there are consequences to the [North's] unlawful conduct," State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen said.
Meanwhile, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort met National Intelligence Service chief Lee Byung-ho during a recent visit to Seoul. The NIS declined to confirm the meeting.
Manafort also met senior Minjoo Party lawmaker Kim Jong-in, former party chairman Sohn Hak-kyu, and Saenuri lawmaker Ahn Sang-soo. He left Seoul on Sunday.
Prior to his visit to Seoul, he was in Tokyo and Beijing, where he met aides to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss the political situation in those countries and in Northeast Asia.
The visit has reassured some here who feared that Trump was ready to ditch the Korea-U.S. alliance based on remarks he made on the stump.