US now ready to talk with North Korea without preconditions
Earnest December 12, 2017
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US is ready to begin negotiations and work on a roadmap with North Korea without preconditions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday.
"We are ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk. And we are ready to have a first meeting without preconditions. Let's just meet," Tillerson said on Tuesday at an 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum meeting in Washington. "And then we can begin lay out a road map of what we might be willing to work towards."
The statement would seem to represent a change of approach for the US, which had demanded that Pyongyang halt its nuclear program before any negotiations could occur.
need DPRK [North Korea] to come to the table for talks. We are ready to
talk any time they'd like to talk." Tillerson said. "But they
have to come to the table with the view that they do want to make a different
choice. Let's just meet and talk about the weather if you want. We can talk
about whether it's going to be a square table or a round table."
"Then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map, of what we might be willing to work towards," Tillerson said, suggesting that initial contacts could revolve around establishing ground rules for any formal negotiations.
'Without preconditions' shouldn't be taken as carte blanche, however, Tillerson noted. "It's going to be tough to talk if in the middle of our talks you decide to test another device. I think they clearly understand that if we are going to talk, we have to have a period of quiet," he said. North Korea has conducted 23 missile tests since February and tested a nuclear device in September.
But Tillerson is, apparently, espousing a less demanding position. In August, he told reporters, "We don't think having a dialogue where the North Koreans come to the table assuming they're going to maintain their nuclear weapons is productive."
The secretary of state's comments come a few days after the UN envoy to North Korea, Jeffrey Feltman, returned from visiting Pyongyang. Feltman is expected to brief the UN Security Council on his trip later on Tuesday. Add Comments>>