WATCH: White House says it has not declared war on North Korea

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that the White House had not declared war on North Korea, as the country’s foreign minister had suggested Monday, calling such an assertion “absurd” in a news briefing with reporters.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters in New York earlier in the day that President Donald Trump’s remarks about leader Kim Jong Un — including a tweet over the weekend — amounted to a “declaration of war,” as both leaders continue to escalate their rhetoric amid growing concern over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Mr. Ho said Mr. Trump’s remarks give North Korea “every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”

During the United Nations General Assembly last week, Trump threatened “total destruction” of North Korea. North Korea’s Ambassador to the U.N., Ja Song Nam, notably left the room before Trump addressed the assembly.

“It’s never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country’s aircraft when it’s over international waters,” Sanders told reporters Monday.

READ MORE: U.S. says it’s not pushing for regime change in North Korea