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Negotiations with 'little rocket man' waste of time

03 October, 2017, 09:01 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Nuclear Disarmament or Non-Proliferation Regime

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump wait for a luncheon with US and African leaders at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017 in NY.

While Tillerson and Chinese leaders didn't mention North Korea in public remarks, he did raise the issue behind closed doors, according to a senior State Department official who asked not to be identified because the talks were private.

The State Department has since said USA diplomats have "open channels" for communicating with the North Koreans, after Secretary Tillerson said during a visit to China Saturday that the U.S.is "probing" talks with North Korea.

The United States is probing to find out whether North Korea is willing to hold talks on giving up its nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been quoted as saying. "We're not in a dark situation, a blackout, we have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang", the top USA diplomat told reporters after he held talks with Chinese officials in Beijing on Saturday.

Last weekend, Trump provoked an angry response from Pyongyang after he warned that the regime "won't be around much longer" if it continues its threats against the U.S. "We do talk to them", he said, without elaborating about which Americans were involved in those contacts or how frequent or substantive they were.

The US was in direct communication with the regime, he said, adding, "we can talk to them, we do talk to them".

He reiterated that Washington would not recognize North Korea as a nuclear power but also has no plans for regime change.

Washington has no diplomatic ties with Kim's autocratic regime, and has been leaning on Beijing to rein in its neighbor's behavior through tougher sanctions.

The war of words has escalated between Kim and Trump in recent weeks, with Trump labeling Kim "Rocket Man", and saying in his first speech to the United Nations that the USA would "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacks.

Asked for clarification about Trump's Sunday morning tweets about North Korea, a senior US official played down the significance of the communication channels.

Tillerson previously had offered little detail about US outreach.

After Tillerson spoke, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert sought to reduce expectations for a breakthrough, saying in a statement that North Korean leaders "have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization".

Malaysia banned its citizens from traveling to North Korea until further notice on Thursday, citing Pyongyang's recent missile tests.

"The whole situation is a bit overheated right now", he said. But he insisted that it was up to the North to halt missile launches.

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