Secretary of State Rex Tillerson softened United States’ stand on possible talks with Pyongyang and said that it is unrealistic to expect North Korea to come to the table ready to give up weapons of mass destruction program that it invested so much in developing. According to Tillerson, President Donald Trump endorses this position, Associated Press reported.
“We are ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk. And we are ready to have the first meeting without preconditions,” Tillerson said at the Atlantic Council think tank.
He added that Pyongyang needs to hold off on its weapons testing.
“Let’s just meet and we can talk about the weather if you want to. We can talk about whether it’s a square table or a round table if that’s what you are excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face and then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map, of what we might be willing to work towards,” Tillerson said.
He emphasized that it was not realistic to say that Washington would only talk to Pyongyang if they were ready to give up on their program.
“They’ve too much invested in it. The president is very realistic about that as well,” Secretary of State said.
The spokesman of Seoul’s Unification Ministry, Baik Tae-hyun, said that Seoul wants the talks to happen as soon as possible if it can help in finding a peaceful solution. According to the executive director of the Arms Control Association, Daryl Kimball, Tillerson’s proposal for direct talks with Pyongyang is overdue and a welcome shift in position. Yet, he added that both sides should demonstrate restraint.
Previously, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House’s spokeswoman, said that Trump’s views on North Korea had not changed.
“North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China, and South Korea, but the entire world. North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea,” she said.
At the same time, Trump kept up his tough talk and said that North Korea was a “vile dictatorship.”