WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday dismissed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s offer for unconditional talks with North Korea, saying Washington will not hold talks with Pyongyang unless it changes its provocative behavior.
President Donald Trump’s administration “is united in insisting that any negotiations with North Korea must wait until the regime fundamentally improves its behavior,” said a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
Speaking at a think tank event Tuesday, Tillerson said, “We’re ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk, and we’re ready to have the first meeting without precondition.”
The remark was taken by some as signaling a potential shift in policy from the United States’ insistence that North Korea first halt nuclear and missile tests and show sincerity about denuclearization if talks are to take place.
In response to Tillerson’s comment, the NSC spokesman said Wednesday the Trump administration’s North Korea policy has not changed.
“As we have stated repeatedly, we are open to the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, with the aim of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula,” the spokesman said, requesting anonymity.
“But North Korea must first refrain from any further provocations and take sincere and meaningful actions toward denuclearization.”
Tillerson has stressed the importance of attempting dialogue and diplomacy with North Korea, even as Trump undercut him by saying the time for talk was over and that the leadership in Pyongyang understands only the threat of force.