The Trump administration is willing to have direct negotiations with North Korea if Pyongyang purses giving up its nuclear weapons, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“Our approach to North Korea is to have them change their posture towards any future talks,” Tillerson said in an interview with NPR aired Friday. “We do not seek a collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We seek a denuclearized Korean peninsula.”
“North Korea has to decide they’re ready to talk to us about the right agenda — and the right agenda is not simply stopping where they are for a few more months or a few more years and then resuming things. That’s been the agenda for the last 20 years,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson added that he believes China, the only major ally of the North Korean regime, shares the same goal and has started to reevaluate North Korea’s liability.
“We know that China is in communications with the regime in Pyongyang,” Tillerson said on Fox News Channel on Thursday. China had informed North Korea “that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions actions on their own.”
Tillerson’s comments came after President Donald Trump told the Reuters that he wanted to resolve the crisis peacefully, possibly through the use of economic sanctions. “We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult,” Trump said.
Trump also warned that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible and a military option was still not off the table.
At a special U.N. Secretary Council meeting Friday, Tillerson called on the international community to fully implement sanctions and for the United Nations to act “before North Korea does.”
“With each successive detonation and missile test North Korea pushes northeast Asia and the world closer to instability and broader conflict,” Tillerson said. “The threat of a North Korean attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real.”
Recent tensions between North Korea and the United States intensified as the Trump administration started taking a more confrontational stance with Pyongyang.
This week, North Korea conducted large-scale drills in celebration of the founding of its military. A North Korean state media outlet also released a video clip on Thursday showing a simulated attack on the White House and declaring that “the enemy to be destroyed is in our sights.”
In a show of military force which North Korea interpreted as a provocation, the U.S. sent the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group to the waters near the Korean peninsula, to join the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine now docked in South Korea.
The installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system in South Korea also was started by the U.S. troops there.