Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to rekindle hopes for a diplomatic solution to the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear program and missile test,during a speech at a forum on Korea at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Tuseday.
“We are ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk, and we are ready to have the first meeting without precondition. Let’s just meet.And let’s ... We can talk about the weather if you want, talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table if that’s what you are excited about.”
North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests in recent months,including one in late November that Pyongyang claims now puts the entire US mainland within its range.Raising fears of a potentially catastrophic nuclear clash on the Korean Peninsula, Tillerson made clear, talks could only start once missile tests stopped.
“If there was any condition at all to this is that, ‘Look, it’s going to be tough to talk if in the middle of our talks, you decide to test another device.’It’s gonna be difficult to talk if in the middle of our talks you decide to fire another one off.So I think they clearly understand that if we’re gonna talk, we have to have a period of quiet.”
Despite his preference for what he calls peaceful pressure, Tillerson said, tough sanctions and other measures can only be successful,because the US military is fully prepared to act in the event diplomacy fails.He also acknowledged that China is already taking steps to prepare for the possibility of a mass inflow of North Korean refugees in case of instability in North Korea.
Cindy Saine VOA News the State Department.