Calling the signals from Pyongyang “positive,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed Thursday that serious negotiations with North Korea are still a long way off.
“We’re a long way from negotiations,” Tillerson said in Ethiopia Thursday. “We need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it.” He explained that the U.S. and North Korea need to start with “talks about talks,” according to the Associated Press.
Tillerson added that he is not sure if the conditions are right for talks with the rogue regime in North Korea.
The secretary of state’s comments follow news from Seoul that North Korea is open to discussing its nuclear program with the U.S., as well as normalizing relations with the U.S.
“The North expressed its willingness to hold a heartfelt dialogue with the U.S. on the issues of denuclearization and normalizing relations with the United States,” the South Korean government said in a statement following a landmark meeting between South Korean diplomats and North Korean leadership.
President Donald Trump has stated that the reported offer may be a sign of “possible progress” but could also be “false hope.” The president has said that the U.S. is open to talks with the rogue regime but only “under the right conditions.”
North Korean Gen. Kim Yong Chol told the South Korean president late in February that the North “is willing to have talks with the U.S.,” a point he made multiple times during his visit to the South.
When Vice President Mike Pence visited South Korea for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, he was reportedly supposed to meet with the North Korean delegation, but the North backed out at the last minute.
On his return home, Pence revealed that the U.S. is ready to talk to North Korea, but the Trump administration has since taken a few steps back, approaching North Korea’s overtures with greater caution.
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