Tillerson: North Korea 'must earn its way back' to negotiations

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday appeared to walk back remarks he made earlier this week that there were no preconditions to restart talks with North Korea, saying instead that Pyongyang must "earn its way back" to negotiations.

The U.N. chief warned at a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that "the risk is being multiplied by misplaced over-confidence, unsafe narratives and rhetoric, and the lack of communication channels". But he stepped back Friday, after the White House rebutted the proposal, telling the council "North Korea must earn its way back to the table". During the first nine months of 2017, its trade with North Korea amounted to US$1.61 million (Bt52 million), which represented a 94-per-cent drop from the same period in 2016.

The White House immediately put out a statement that contradicted him: "The president's views on North Korea have not changed".

Since late past year, the council has imposed a series of sanctions aimed at cutting the North's ability to fund its nuclear weapons programme, including limiting its ability to export labourers for work programmes in Russian Federation and other countries. He noted that after about two months of quiet on North Korea's part, the USA held massive military drills with South Korea and then announced it was placing Pyongyang on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The United States has called on China to cut off oil supplies to North Korea, a move that would deal a crippling blow to its economy.

"There is but one party that has carried out illegal detonation of illegal devices, there is but one party that launches intercontinental ballistic missiles. that is the Kim regime in North Korea", Tillerson said.

American president Donald Trump has publicly undermined his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, for the nth time.

In a challenge to the global order, North Korea has issued a threat that it will become "world's most powerful nuclear and military state".

Earlier this week, Tillerson stunned many by proposing talks with North Korea without preconditions. Tillerson also said about full military readiness of the United States due to persistent provocations from Pyongyang, but affirmed that the diplomatic efforts will continue "until the first bomb drops". "We do not regard this claim as an empty threat".

He said the USA does not want war but "will use all necessary measures to defend itself against North Korean aggression".

He said "our hope remains that diplomacy will produce a resolution".

"North Korea's growing capabilities reflect a direct threat to our security and the security of the entire world", Tillerson said.

Information for this article was contributed by Matthew Pennington, Edith M. Lederer, Mari Yamaguchi, Jerry Harmer and Ken Moritsugu of The Associated Press; and by Nick Wadhams, Kambiz Foroohar and Justin Sink of Bloomberg News.

  • Anthony Vega