Tillerson: U.S. Can Talk to North Korea if It Stops Missile Tests

State Secretary Rex Tillerson opened a door for dialogue with North Korea on Monday, noting that Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang if it stopped a string of missile test launches recently, Reuters reports.

The state secretary’s comments came as the latest U.S. move to curb North Korea’s missile program following months of debate of President Trump. The UN Security Council imposed the strictest sanctions measures so far against North Korea over its July missile tests. Tillerson, however, appeared more calm on Monday.

“The best signal that North Korea can give us that they are prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” said Tillerson, adding that “other means of communications” were open to Pyongyang. He also said any dialogue would deal with how North Korea can “feel secure and prosper economically.”

Just a week ago, the secretary of state said Pyongyang needed to halt its missile launches and nuke tests in order to start dialogue. It was unclear why Tillerson urged North Korea Monday to cease only missile launches, and the Department of State had no response to the clarification request.

However, a senior official close to the talks between the U.S. and China claimed “it was not an accident or a mistake that Tillerson did not mention nuclear testing.” The United States is leaving it to China to rehash opposition of world powers to new nuke tests, while Washington is calling for termination of missile launches “which obviously is a much lower rhetorical barrier to resuming talks,” according to the official.

North Korea did not react directly to the remarks of the secretary of state, but issued a statement following Tillerson’s comments, responding to the fresh sanctions by saying it was ready to teach the U.S. a “severe lesson” if it attacked.

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