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Rex Tillerson: US Ready for 'First Meeting Without Precondition' with North Korea

14 December 2017

The US State Department said its policy on North Korea "has not changed", following remarks by secretary of state Rex Tillerson that Washington is ready to talk without prior conditions. Tillerson said it's unrealistic to say the USA would only engage in dialogue with Pyongyang on the condition the regime abandons its nuclear development program.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which borders Russian Federation, have escalated in recent months as North Korea tests nuclear weapons in a show of force against South Korea and that country's allies Japan and the United States. "They have too much invested in it, and the President is very realistic about that as well", Tillerson granted in his remarks at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday.

"Let's just meet. We can talk about the weather if you want", he added. The U.S. has maintained that North Korea should come forward ready to give up its weapons before the U.S. would engage in dialogue.

The presidential Blue House said Wednesday that Tillerson's remarks re-emphasized the USA position to encourage Pyongyang to return to a dialogue table.

Meanwhile, he interpreted Tillerson's offer of discussions "without preconditions" as meaning that the United States is "not going to relieve any pressure on North Korea, or cave in to any demands for pay offs".

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If diplomacy doesn't work, Tillerson said he would have "failed", and that diplomatic efforts are backed by military options.

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's weapons advances have grown this year and recent exchanges of bellicose rhetoric have fueled fears over the risk of military conflict.

"I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man", the president tweeted, "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"

Tillerson's overture came almost two weeks after North Korea said it had successfully tested a breakthrough intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that put the entire United States mainland within range.

The UK Guardian notes that Tillerson's comments could be interpreted as a final effort to get the North Koreans talking before doom comes to Pyongyang.

Rex Tillerson: US Ready for 'First Meeting Without Precondition' with North Korea