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US Special Envoy To North Korea Backs Tillerson’s Idea For Unconditional Talks After White House Shot It Down

KCNA via REUTERS

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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U.S. Special Envoy to North Korea Joseph Yun followed in the footsteps of the secretary of state and publicly stated Friday the U.S. is ready for talks with North Korea, even though the White House has said clearly that now is not the right time.

“We’re ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk, and we’re ready to have the first meeting without precondition,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum Tuesday. “It’s not realistic to say we’re only going to talk if you come to the table ready to give up your program. They have too much invested in it.”

The White House quickly ran roughshod over Tillerson’s vision of a diplomatic solution.

“Given North Korea’s most recent missile test, clearly right now is not the time,” a White House National Security Council spokesman said Wednesday. “The president’s views on North Korea have not changed,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stressed the day before.

Speaking in Bangkok, Thailand, Tillerson’s top North Korea official Joseph Yun said the U.S. is ready to engage North Korea, telling reporters that talks without preconditions would advance the latter half of President Donald Trump’s administration’s stated maximum pressure and engagement strategy, that has so far been focused solely on increasing pressure on the rogue regime, according to The Associated Press.

“We should exercise direct diplomacy as well as sanctions,” Yun said Friday, according to Reuters. “That is our policy, which is based on pressure and engagement, and we do want to engage in pressure and diplomacy.”

Tillerson was saying that “we want to have a dialogue with” the North Koreans, he explained.

The U.S. is “open to dialogue, and we hope that they will agree to have a dialogue,” Yun said, stressing that the U.S. should give diplomacy a real chance before looking to the military for answers.

“Let’s see how they respond,” Yun said. “I am very hopeful that diplomacy has a long way to go before any next steps are considered.”

North Korea has been steadily raising the threat throughout the year, launching two new intercontinental ballistic missiles and detonating a suspected hydrogen bomb.

“It is important that the diplomatic effort be backed up by a very credible military alternative,” Tillerson revealed Tuesday. “There are multiple military options that have been developed to deal with a failure on my part … We’re going to work hard to not fail.”

White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently told reporters the possibility of war with North Korea is “increasing every day.”

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