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US Sends Mixed Signals on Willingness to Talk to North Korea
16 December 2017, 01:46 | Colleen Roy
White House says not right time for talks with North Korea hours after Rex Tillerson offered direct dialogue
Speaking on December 12 at the Atlantic Council in Washington D.C., Tillersonsaid that the U.S.is willing to engage Pyongyang in a formal diplomatic dialogue, despite Trump's previous claims that the Secretary of State was "wasting his time" negotiating with Kim Jong Un. The latest differences emerge amid growing signs that the Trump administration is preparing to wage war against the Pyongyang regime in the coming months unless it capitulates completely to USA demands.
"I think the possibility of talks appears to be growing".
While Tillerson did say that the USA needed "a period of quiet" before coming to the negotiating table, on Tuesday he invited North Korea to "talk anytime" - breaking with longstanding US policy by opening the diplomacy door even ifNorth Korea does not give up its nuclear weapons program.
Experts see it is noteworthy that Tillerson made such remarks on the North, but it is too early to say whether talks without preconditions are the official policy direction that the Trump administration will take going forward. "Let's just meet. Then we can begin lay out a road map of what we might be willing to work towards". We can talk about whether it is going to be a square table or a round table, if that is what you are excited about. Moreover, such a step would involve an ever-more intrusive inspection prying into all aspects of its military and security apparatus.
"We simply can not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea", he said, stressing for everyone present that "there are multiple military options that have been developed to deal with a failure on my part".
Trump's North Korea strategy to trigger starvation? Pyongyang has pointed to the fate of Iraq and Libya-which bowed to USA demands over their weapons of mass destruction-only to be attacked.
The White House issued a statement following Tillerson's comments saying U.S. President Donald Trump's stance hasn't changed when it comes to negotiations with North Korea.
Tillerson acknowledged that United States ties with Pakistan have "really deteriorated" in the last decade. "I will continue our diplomatic efforts until the first bomb drops", Tillerson said, but added that "there are multiple military options that have been developed to deal with a failure on my part". "I'm confident that we're gonna be successful".
"North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China, and South Korea, but the entire world. Tillerson's remarks were one of the clearest diplomatic overtures to date from the Trump administration to Pyongyang", said Foreign Policy, an American media outlet specializing in foreign affairs, while addressing Tillerson's remarks. And what [does North Korea] want to put on the table? North Korea says such drills are preparations for invasion.
After his four-day visit, the North's state-run media said that Pyongyang will communicate "through visits at different level on a regular basis in the future". Food prices have shot up 160 percent since April.
Mr Tillerson has diverged from other administration officials in the past. China, which has desperately sought to prevent an implosion in Pyongyang, is now preparing for the worst.
As the New York Timesreported, it wasn't long before the White House rejected Tillerson's line.
More ominously, a provincial newspaper in the border area-the state-owned Jilin Daily -issued a full-page advisory last week entitled "General Knowledge about Nuclear Weapons and Protection".
Tillerson said in a forum co-hosted by the Korea Foundation and the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, "We're ready to talk whenever North Korea is ready to talk, and we're willing to have a first meeting without preconditions". "We believe that [Tillerson's remarks] emphasized once again the United States position that North Korea needs to halt its provocations and threats and return to dialogue".
Such guarantees are unlikely to convince Beijing, which is deeply concerned at the possibility of the USA installing a puppet regime in Pyongyang. We'll see how it all turns out.
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