Tillerson: US willing to talk with DPRK 'without precondition'

13 December, 2017, 06:37 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Image Victor Kalganov with three unidentified Russian defense ministry officials

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S.is "ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk ... without precondition", in a surprising change for a member of the Trump administration.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on the U.S. -Korea relationship during a forum at the Atlantic Council in Washington, U.S. December 12, 2017.

He added: "Let's just meet and let's talk about the weather if you want, and talk about whether it's going to be a square table or a round table if that's what you're excited about".

It will also be tough to talk, Tillerson says, if North Korea continues to fire off missiles or test nuclear devices. "We're ready to talk anytime they're ready to talk, but they have to come to the table and they have to come to the table with a view that they're ready to make a different choice".

While reiterating Washington's position that it can not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea, Tillerson said the United States was "ready to talk any time they're ready to talk".

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to comments from Tillerson in a statement, saying that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for "serious case of amnesia" after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don't want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE's position on North Korea remained unchanged.

Tillerson said he would also make changes allowing sick employees to telework, streamline the portals employees use for HR purposes, simplify their travel booking system and modernize technology at the State Department to put it on the cloud.

"We're ready to have the first meeting without pre-conditions", Tillerson said.

Russia sends military delegation to North Korea

The apparent shift in Tillerson's thinking came almost two weeks after North Korea said it had successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile in what it called a "breakthrough" that put the United States mainland within range.

"It's not realistic to say we're only going to talk if you come to the table ready to give up your program". They've too much invested in it.

At least half his address was devoted to walking State Department employees through worldwide events of the year, starting with the challenge of North Korea.

The top US diplomat was referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Last week, the United States flew a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea as part of a massive combined aerial exercise involving more than 200 warplanes. A top United Nations diplomat and former state department official, Jeffrey Feltman, is just back from Pyongyang, and the United Nations says he's calling for open channels to reduce the risks of conflict.

"I think we've left the door ajar, and I fervently hope that the door to a negotiated solution will now be opened wide", he added. "We've had conversations with the Chinese about how that might be done", Tillerson said.

"The Trump administration should insist that North Korea commit to denuclearization upfront to avoid the failed negotiations of the past and any testing freeze is accompanied by verification that the programs do not continue during the negotiations", Anthony Ruggiero, a former US State Department and Treasury Department official, said in a tweet. "They did not offer any type of commitment to us at that point".

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