WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday, after North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un postponed a threat to fire missiles towards the US territory of Guam, that Washington remains ready for talks.
But the top US diplomat said it would be up to Kim when such negotiations would begin, having previously insisted Pyongyang must demonstrate that it accepts it will have to give up its nuclear program.
“I have no response to his decisions at all at this time,” Tillerson said, when asked about Kim’s decision to hold off. “We continue to be interested in finding ways to get to dialogue, but that’s up to him.”
Speaking after the launch of a religious freedom report, Tillerson would not go into more detail as to how North Korea could demonstrate a commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“North Korea would have to take some very serious steps and show us that they are serious about their interest and intent in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula,” Tillerson’s spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“It would have to do a lot more. Secretary Tillerson has talked a lot about that. He’s also said ‘I’m not negotiating my way back to the negotiating table,’ and North Korea knows exactly what it has to do.”
He has previously said Pyongyang must halt ballistic missile and nuclear tests for an unspecified amount of time before negotiations can begin on how to halt the stand-off and any threat of US military action.
Earlier Tuesday, the unpredictable and isolated North Korean leader had been briefed by his missile forces on a “plan for an enveloping fire at Guam,” according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.