White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Reuters

The White House on Monday dismissed claims by North Korea that the U.S. had declared war on the country.

“We’ve not declared war on North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, as quoted by The Hill.

Her remarks came after Reuters quoted North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, as saying that President Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations last week and his subsequent tweets were a “declaration of war.”

“In light of the declaration of war by Trump, all options will be on the operating table of the Supreme leadership of [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea],” Ri Yong Ho had said.

North Korea has also threatened to shoot down U.S. aircraft over international waters.

“It's never appropriate to shoot down another country's aircraft when it's over international waters,” Sanders said Monday.

“Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the peninsula. That's our focus. Doing that through both the most maximum economic and diplomatic pressures as possible at this point,” she stressed.

In his speech at the UN last week, Trump nicknamed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man", and said he "is on suicide mission for himself and for his regime."

"No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arming itself with nuclear weapons and missiles," Trump said. "It is time for North Korea to realize that de-nuclearization is its only acceptable future."

Ri later said Trump had made an "irreversible mistake" and threatened the "entire U.S. mainland" with missiles.

Trump later fired back at Ri, tweeting, “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!”

The back and forth is the latest in the escalation between the U.S. and North Korea. Trump recently warned Pyongyang it faced "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continued to threaten the United States with its missile and nuclear programs.

North Korea responded by conducting its sixth and largest nuclear test, and later warning it would send “more gift packages” to the U.S. if it continues to pressure Pyongyang.