WASHINGTON – Secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, weakened America’s stance on possible talks with North Korea, calling it “not realistic” to expect that the nuclear-armed country to come to the table ready to give a weapons of mass destruction program that invested so much in the development. Tillerson said his boss, President Donald Trump, endorses this view.
Tillerson’s comments Tuesday came two weeks after North Korea conducted a test with a rocket that could potentially carry a nuclear warhead to the east coast of the usa — a milestone in the decades-long drive to form an atomic threat with his American opponent that Trump has vowed to prevent the use of military force if necessary.
“We are ready to talk at any time of North Korea would want to talk about. And we are ready to have the first meeting without prior conditions,” Tillerson said at the Atlantic Council think tank.
He said that the North would need to hold off on the testing of weapons. This year, the North has carried out more than 20 ballistic missile launches and a nuclear test explosion, the most powerful, but still.
“Let’s just meet and we can talk about it again, if you want to. We can talk about whether it is a square table or a round table if that’s what you’re excited about,” Tillerson said. “But at least we can sit and see each other face to face and then we can begin to see the layout of a map, a road map, of what we would be willing to work towards.”
Although Tillerson said that the goal of the AMERICAN policy remained denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he added that it was “not realistic to say we’re only going to talk if you go to the table ready to be your program. They have too much invested in it. The president is very realistic.”
Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman of Seoul’s Unification Ministry, said Tillerson’s comments that Seoul needs for calls to “happen quickly” if they contribute to the goal of finding a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear problem.
He said that Washington and Seoul both maintain a firm stance that North Korea’s nuclear weapons cannot be tolerated and must be completely ignored in a peaceful way.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement later Tuesday that: “The President’s views on North Korea have not changed.”
“North Korea is that in an unsafe way, not only in the direction of Japan, China and South Korea, but also around the world. North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea,” she said.
In public, Trump is less optimistic about the possibilities of diplomacy with Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian government, which is facing growing international isolation and sanctions if it pursues nuclear weapons is in violation of multiple U. N. security council resolutions. In October, Trump seemed to undercut Tillerson, when he said that he was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korea, as Tillerson said that the US had backchannel communications with the North.
Trump, who traded insults with Kim, kept up his tough talk on Tuesday. If he signed a $700 billion defense authorization bill that the extra spending on missile defense, he referred to North Korea as a “vile dictatorship.”
“We’re working very hard to that the build up of forces. We’ll see how it all turns out. It is a very bad situation — a situation that should have been handled long ago by other governments,” Trump said.
Tillerson is not that North Korea had signaled a new readiness to talk, but said that “they clearly know that if we are going to talk, we have a period of silence,” in weapons testing.
Tillerson stressed that the U.S. would not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea, if it flouts the international standards and can spread weapons technology to non-state groups in a way that other nuclear powers do not.
In a rare admission of the discussion about a very sensitive topic, Tillerson said Washington has discussed with Beijing, North Korea’s nuclear weapons can be protected in the event of instability.
“The most important thing for us would be to secure those nuclear weapons that they have already developed and ensuring that nothing falls into the hands of people who we would not want to have. We have discussions with the Chinese about how that might be done,” Tillerson said.
It turned out to be the first public acknowledgement by an administration official that the united states has discussed North Korean contingencies with China, which fought with the North against the united states in the 1950-53 Korean War. The Trumpet administration has a series of high-level dialogues with Beijing this year, and the AMERICAN and Chinese generals held rare talks in late November on the way in which the two armies can communicate in a crisis, although U.S. officials said that the dialogue was not focused on North Korea.
Tillerson said that the US assured China that in the case of the American troops had to cross the river to the north of the demilitarized zone between the two koreas, it would retreat back south as soon as stability returns.
“That is our aim we to them. Our only goal is to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and that is all,” Tillerson said.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, says Tillerson, the proposal for direct talks with North Korea without preconditions was overdue and a welcome shift in the position, but both sides needed to show restraint.
“For North Korea that means an end to all nuclear and ballistic missile tests, and for the United States, to refrain from military maneuvers and overflights that resemble practice runs for an invasion of the North,” Kimball said. “If such restraint is not sufficient, we can expect a further escalation of tensions and a growing risk of a catastrophic war.”
Last week, the United States flew a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea as part of a large combined aerial exercise in which more than 200 fighters. North Korea says that such exercises are the preparations for the invasion.