North Korea has shown no interest in holding talks to negotiate its nuclear and missile programs, the U.S. State Department said Saturday after Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State acknowledged the United States was communicating directly with Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.
“North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert explained in a statement, “despite assurances that the United States is not interested in promoting the collapse of the current regime, pursuing regime change, accelerating reunification of the peninsula or mobilizing forces north of the DMZ [Demilitarized Zone].”
Tillerson who was in Beijing on Saturday, seeking China’s unity and cooperation on a “maximum pressure” campaign against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He revealed the United States had established a more direct means of communication with North Korea and was investigating whether the government of Kim Jong Un will ascribe to the option of giving up their nuclear weapon.
Talking to a small group of journalists Saturday in Beijing after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials, Tillerson said, “We are probing, so stay tuned. We talk to them … directly through our own channels.”
When quizzed on what they talk about, Tillerson said, “We ask: Would you like to talk?”
The United States and North Korea are not on good diplomatic terms, hence speak through other governments and government officials.
The remarks from Tillerson were the most obvious to date on how the two countries discuss and they brewed a conflict and a perpetual war of words between them. In the course of the past few weeks, following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test which has been recorded as its most powerful to date, President Donald Trump has referred to the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, as “Rocket Man.”
Trump also warned at the U.N. on the 19th of September that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if it realises its threats of an attack.
Kim replied by referring to Trump as a “dotard” and North Korea’s U.N. ambassador also warned that the U.S. would “pay dearly for his speech,” threatening to carry out an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean in a spate of verbal attacks between the two countries.
Tillerson said Saturday, “Actually, what we need is to calm things down. I think they are well overheated right now. I think everyone would like for it to calm down.”
He also opined, “Obviously, it would help if North Korea would stop firing off missiles.”
Tillerson’s unexpected visit, which came briefly after Chinese and American officials came together this week in Washington to host the Social and Culture Dialogue, was to explain and elaborate on the details of Trump’s visit to Asia, most importantly China in November.
China has a weeklong holiday starting Sunday in celebration of their national day and shortly after that the ruling Communist Party will host top-drawer political meetings and a once-in-five-years leadership reorganistaion.
Tillerson said he made the trip to discuss North Korea and Trump’s trip before China got too busy with the party congress.
However, concerns were raised that North Korea might use China’s National Day anniversary and holiday or the scheduled meeting as an opportunity to enageg in more tests.
When asked whether an atmospheric nuclear test would spur a military response from the United States, and whether that would cross a red line, Tillerson said the final decision was rested on Trump’s table and he has no final say over that.
Tillerson further informed, though, that as far as he understood, the president was yet to draw any red line.
Trump on Friday announced his forthcoming visit to Asia. In very brief remarks to journalists on Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he thought Trump’s visit to his nation would be “special, wonderful and successful,” and important to U.S.-China relations.
Earlier Saturday, Tillerson met with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the implementation of sanctions.
The U.S. is working in a close knit with Chinese officials on Beijing’s commitment to reducing or outrightly stopping imports of North Korean coal, iron, iron ore, lead and lead ore, and seafood.
If fully approved and implemented, the ban on those items could in no small amount cause a reduction to North Korea’s revenues this year. North Korea earned $1.5 billion from the export of the items to China in 2016, according to the State Department.
Meanwhile, China is North Korea’s No. 1 trade partner as the next days will measure where the most populous nation in the world have their loyalty rested. Washington says bringing China on board is key to cutting off Pyongyang’s ability to earn hard currency.
Douglas Paal, director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Asia Program, said, however, that the influence China has over North Korea is limited.
“The North is very reluctant to take instructions from China. It will exploit whatever it can get from China, but it doesn’t look for political guidance from China. So this is a problem we [the U.S.] and South Korea are going to have to handle directly with North Korea as we go forward,” Paal said.
The jury is out on the US, China and North Korea and the coming days will determine if the world will be dipped in another tale of international rancour in the quest for diplomatic supremacy.
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