US Sends Mixed Signals on Willingness to Talk to North Korea
Dec 16, 2017, 13:44
Officials in Donald Trump's administration have appeared to contradict Secretary of StateRex Tillerson'sclaim that the USA could open talks with North Korea without preconditions. The administration believes that doing so would force Pyongyang to the negotiating table.
Tillerson's remarks to the Atlantic Council appear to be a last ditch attempt to start talks to try to prevent a conflict that could spiral out of control. "I don't think - it's not realistic to say we're only going to talk if you come to the table ready to give up your program".
With a note of desperation, Tillerson continued: "We're ready to have the first meeting without preconditions".
Later in remarks to State Department staff reported by Reuters, Tillerson said: "We want them to make the right choice, which is to stop and say: 'Let's sit down to talk about it".
Therefore, "there's nothing going to happen in the next couple of years because it'll take us that time to get to a stage that we can begin to actually implement the building itself".
Beyond these technical issues, Tillerson does not "expect that there won't be any issues other than our ability to just execute on as swift a schedule as we can". Moreover, such a step would involve an ever-more intrusive inspection prying into all aspects of its military and security apparatus.
"We remain open to dialogue when North Korea is willing to conduct a serious & credible dialogue on the peaceful denuclearization, but that time is not now".
This threw cold water on cautious expectations that the USA and North Korea could have direct contact, fueled by a 75-day lull in which the North had not conducted any major provocations. Pyongyang has pointed to the fate of Iraq and Libya-which bowed to U.S. demands over their weapons of mass destruction-only to be attacked.
U.S. President Donald Trump's 'views on North Korea have not changed, ' White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
The first is a "period of quiet" in which North Korea does not carry out any more nuclear and missile tests prior to dialogue; the second is that North Korea needs to tell the United States it wants to talk; and the third is that North Korea needs to decide that it will not test its nuclear or missile devices during the talks. "The administration is united in insisting that any negotiations with North Korea must wait until the regime fundamentally improves its behaviour".
Tillerson acknowledged that U.S. ties with Pakistan have "really deteriorated" in the last decade.
"Pakistan has allowed so many terrorist organizations to find safe haven within its territories, and these organizations are growing in size and influence, that at some point I have said to the leadership of Pakistan, you may be the target, and they turn their attention from Kabul and decide they like Islamabad as a target better", said Tillerson. "I'm confident that we're gonna be successful".
Mr Tillerson said: "In the meantime our military preparedness is strong".
"North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China, and South Korea, but the entire world".
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