Trump balks at his Secretary of State's foreign policy (again)

Mr Tillerson spoke at the 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum in Washington on Tuesday and said the U.S. is "ready to talk anytime North Korea like to talk".

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During remarks given on Tuesday at the State Department, Tillerson was asked about the challenges he foresees as a result of the move of the USA diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jointly hosted by the Korea Foundation and the Atlantic Council, an American think tank, the forum was held in Washington, D.C. on December 12.

It still remains to be seen whether his remarks are the official stance of the Donald Trump administration and also how the North will respond, they said. In his remarks, Tillerson expressed a strong commitment to dialogue: "Let's just meet... we can talk about the weather if you want". We can talk about whether there is gonna be a square table or a round table if that's what you're excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face?

Media captionHow would war with North Korea unfold?

While Tillerson did say that the USA needed "a period of quiet" before coming to the negotiating table, on Tuesday he invited North Korea to "talk anytime" - breaking with longstanding US policy by opening the diplomacy door even ifNorth Korea does not give up its nuclear weapons program.

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Apparently rekindling speculation that the reclusive state might be tilting toward talks with the outside world, Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N.'s undersecretary general for political affairs, made a rare trip to North Korea last week. Tillerson suggested that, once the negotiations began, all issues are open for discussion: "Negotiations means a willingness to talk about a lot of things..."

The US has reportedly already begun to seek out potential sites for the embassy in Jerusalem, and has already contacted architects for work on the plans for the building. The basic principle here is that talks come first and the roadmap second.

Tillerson said President Donald Trump endorses this position. North Korea says such drills are preparations for invasion.

On Tuesday afternoon, Tillerson offered direct talks with Pyongyang without preconditions of the North giving up its nuclear ambitions. We'll see how it all turns out. This coincides with the recent surge in the frequency with which U.S. officials have been raising concerns about the proliferation of North Korean nuclear weapons.

"As I've told people many times, I will continue our diplomatic efforts until the first bomb drops".

Tillerson's comments are another warning that the USA war drive against North Korea is accelerating.

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Trump has criticized his secretary of state, saying Tillerson was "wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man".

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement later Tuesday that: "The president's views on North Korea have not changed". CNN also concluded that Tillerson had given North Korea "a direct public invitation... to put aside an escalating cycle of [nuclear weapon and missile] tests and taunts [by Trump] and engage in diplomacy".

Tillerson added US military preparedness to respond to any North Korean threat was strong in the meantime. "I think it is unusual to hear that". The current situation on the Korean Peninsula, he argued, is "an adversarial stand-off consisting of provocations and pressure".

"We are ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk".

White House officials have noted that when USA embassies were moved to new locations in the past, it took as long as five years. "We've had conversations with the Chinese about how that might be done", Tillerson said.

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  • Ryan Wade