Published: Wed, December 13, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

US Open to North Korea Talks 'Without Precondition': Tillerson

US Open to North Korea Talks 'Without Precondition': Tillerson

"We've said from the diplomatic side, we're ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk, and we're ready to have the first meeting without precondition", Tillerson said at an Atlantic Council event in Washington.

But appearing to soften the United States stance to talks, he said: "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".

"Let's just meet and we can talk about the weather if you want to".

Tillerson said he hoped Pyongyang would "make the right choice" and "sit down to talk about it".

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Diplomatic relations between the two nations have been strained by recent North Korean missile tests, and by a war of words between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.

Tillerson pointed out that despite differences between the two sides, the United States is relying on Russian Federation to help solve the crisis in Syria and denuclearize North Korea. "They have too much invested in it, and [President Trump] is very realistic about that as well".

Still, the final goal for the administration has not changed, with the ultimate objective continuing to be the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula - and Tillerson said he remains optimistic diplomatic efforts can achieve that.

"It will probably be many years before we can declare final victory", Tillerson said, offering a more nuanced view than Trump offered at the White House on Tuesday, during the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, when he said that, "we've had more success with ISIS in the last eight months than the entire previous administration has had during its entire term".

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He said Washington and Seoul both maintain a firm stance that North Korea's nuclear weapons can not be tolerated and should be completely discarded in a peaceful way.

It was not immediately clear whether Tillerson, whose influence has appeared to wane within the administration, had Trump's full support to seek such a diplomatic opening.

Tillerson has also alienated some of his staff by relying on a narrow group of aides, nudging out a number of senior career diplomats, and making erroneous statements about top echelon of US diplomats during a recent appearance.

Tillerson confirmed that North Korea giving up its nuclear arsenal was crucial to any future deal. "We'll continue to work with Russian Federation in Syria as long as they want to work toward that objective", he said. North Korea's exports and its ability to access oil have been affected, Tillerson said, denying it significant revenue streams.

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"For North Korea that means a halt to all nuclear and ballistic missile tests, and for the United States, refraining from military maneuvers and overflights that appear to be practice runs for an attack on the North", Kimball said.

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