US Willing to Talk with N. Korea without Preconditions

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a forum on U.S.-South Korea relations at the Atlantic Council in Washington D.C. on Dec. 12
White House says not right time for talks with North Korea hours after Rex Tillerson offered direct dialogue

16 December, 2017

The first is a "period of quiet" in which North Korea does not carry out any more nuclear and missile tests prior to dialogue; the second is that North Korea needs to tell the U.S. it wants to talk; and the third is that North Korea needs to decide that it will not test its nuclear or missile devices during the talks.

She said: "Our policy on #DPRK has not changed".

"The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical, it is the job of Secretary Mattis, the secretary of defence, to talk about military matters", Mr Gorka told the BBC.

Experts agreed that Tillerson's "talks-without-conditions" remarks have sent a message to the North that it is ready to talk.

Military leaders in Pyongyang had already said the outbreak of war was an "established fact" after the USA held joint exercises with Japan and South Korea last week. In his remarks, Tillerson expressed a strong commitment to dialogue: "Let's just meet... we can talk about the weather if you want".

In August, then-White House advisor Sebastian Gorka criticised Mr Tillerson after the secretary of state attempted to moderate President Trump's remarks on North Korea. CNN also concluded that Tillerson had given North Korea "a direct public invitation... to put aside an escalating cycle of [nuclear weapon and missile] tests and taunts [by Trump] and engage in diplomacy".

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reportedly approved of Tillerson's comments, according to Russian state news agency Interfax.

Trump, who has traded insults with Kim, kept up his tough talk on Tuesday.

During remarks given on Tuesday at the State Department, Tillerson was asked about the challenges he foresees as a result of the move of the USA diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We'll see how it all turns out.

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The US and South Korea have held, one after another, the largest-ever joint military exercises this year that are, in reality, rehearsals for war with North Korea.

In a rare admission of discussion of a highly sensitive topic, Tillerson said Washington has discussed with Beijing how North Korea's nuclear weapons might be secured in case of instability there.

Things, however, could get worse should the North rebuff it and respond with more provocations that could make it harder for Washington to wiggle around in its future policy and send the tensions spiraling out of control, he said.

Tillerson, left, is shown meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 30.

It appeared to be the first public recognition from an administration official that the USA has discussed North Korean contingencies with China, which fought with the North against the the 1950-53 Korean War. "So it's probably no earlier than three years out, and that's pretty ambitious as it is, but the President has said move ahead", Tillerson said.

Mr Tillerson has also defended the Obama administration deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, which Mr Trump has railed against and sought to overturn.

"That is our commitment we made to them".

"For North Korea that means a halt to all nuclear and ballistic missile tests, and for the United States, refraining from military manoeuvres and overflights that appear to be practice runs for an attack on the North", Kimball said.

His remarks are seen as different from Washington's long-held stance that it will pursue maximum pressure and engagement to force the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program, demanding North show honest attitude in its denuclearization efforts as a precondition for talks with Pyongyang. North Korea says such drills are preparations for invasion.

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