Published: Fri, December 15, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Tillerson softens U.S. stance on possible talks with North Korea

Tillerson softens U.S. stance on possible talks with North Korea

"Given the extraordinary pace of the situation unfolding before us, China needs to at least consider a partial embargo - say half of its exports - if we want to change the current course that North Korea is on", Ban said a day before his three-day visit to Hong Kong.

Tillerson did not indicate that North Korea had signaled a new readiness to talk, but said that "they clearly understand that if we're going to talk, we've got to have a period of quiet" in weapons tests.

"The US or any of its follower enforce the naval blockade against North Korea, it would be considered as an act of war and we will respond to it", the agency added.

Donnelly's provision requires Trump to submit to Congress a report that describes and assesses North Korea's threats to USA security; lists options available to the US for dealing with the East Asian nation; describes "operational plans and associated military requirements for the protection of United States interests"; and identifies "the desired end state in North Korea" and what resources are necessary to bring that about.

Subsequent UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea limit imports of refined petroleum products to two million barrels a year, a cut the USA says amounts to about 30 per cent of Pyongyang's oil intake.

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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.

After Tillerson said in September that the U.S. held open two or three channels for dialogue with North Korea, Trump shot back the next day that dialogue was a "waste of time". They've too much invested in it.

"Together the worldwide community must continue to send a unified message to North Korea that the DPRK must abandon its WMD (weapon of mass destruction) programs".

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., introduced the amendment, which gives Trump 90 days after its enactment to report his North Korea strategy to Congress.

China also "welcomes all efforts that will help ease the tension and resolve the issue through dialogue", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a press briefing Wednesday.

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But the White House, where Tillerson has reportedly fallen out of favor, seemed to push back. The companies have already been sanctioned by the United States. In a rare glimmer of diplomatic protocol, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that the United States was "ready to talk anytime" with North Korea "without preconditions".

"We have to see the effects of sanctions on life in North Korea", a former Japanese diplomat, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters. If carried out, it would be the North's most provocative missile launch to date.

In public, Trump has been less sanguine about the possibilities of diplomacy with Kim Jong Un's authoritarian government, which faces growing worldwide isolation and sanctions as it pursues nuclear weapons in defiance of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.

In the past, presidents who have looked to engage with North Korea diplomatically without first securing guarantees from Pyongyang have faced strong backlash from more hawkish United States officials, usually Republicans. At Georgetown University and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an influential think tank, Cha has impressed audiences as a soft-spoken, deliberate talker with a firm grasp on the realities of dealing with North Korea.

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