U.S. ready for talks with North Korea 'without preconditions', says Rex Tillerson
14 December, 2017, 16:01 | Author: Christina Hansen
Tillerson said on Tuesday the United States was "ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk", appearing to back away from a key USA demand that Pyongyang must first accept that any negotiations would have to be about giving up its nuclear arsenal.
Tillerson told the Atlantic Council policy forum on Wednesday that North Korea is welcome to talk about anything at a first meeting - even the weather.
"It's not realistic to say that we're only going to talk if you come to the table ready to give up your program", Tillerson explained. "We can talk whether it is going to be a square table or a round table if that is what you are excited about", Tillerson continued. "And then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map of what we might be willing to work towards".
"As the secretary of state has said, this must include - but is not limited to - no further nuclear or missile tests", the spokesperson said, adding, "Given North Korea's most recent missile test, clearly now is not the time". "We are ready to talk any time they'd like to talk", Tillerson said, according to Sputnik. "McMaster has the ear of the President and is much more credible".
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The remarks are some of the most concrete issued by Tillerson on what talks with North Korea might look like. "Talks with North Korea won't be an end in themselves", he added during a conference organised by the Jamestown Foundation research institute in Washington.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the Second Plenum of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 8, 2017. The test drew condemnation from the USA and Pyongyang's only major ally, China.
In a rare admission of discussion of a highly sensitive topic, Tillerson said Washington has discussed with Beijing how North Korea's nuclear weapons might be secured in case of instability there.
Tillerson said that the US has assured China that in the event that American troops had to cross northward of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, it would retreat back south once stability returned.
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Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said Tillerson's proposal for direct talks with North Korea without preconditions was overdue and a welcome shift in position, but both sides needed to demonstrate restraint. North Korea says such drills are preparations for invasion.
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