Days after creating confusion over the Trump administration's North Korea policy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson walked back his comments that the US was ready to meet Kim Jong Un's regime for talks "without precondition", telling the United Nations Security Council Friday that there must first be "a sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behavior. before talks can begin".
Differences between President Donald Trump and Tillerson over Washington's approach to North Korea first emerged in October, when Trump tweeted that his top diplomat's efforts to negotiate with China on the subject were "a waste of time". He was quickly contradicted by the White House.
He said the campaign of economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea "must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved". "We will in the meantime keep our channels of communication open".
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is offering his "good offices" so that North Korea's "alarming" and accelerating nuclear and missile program does not accidentally escalate into conflict.
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Still, Tillerson had planned to reiterate his call at a special United Nations ministerial meeting on North Korea at the council Friday morning.
North Korea, which in the past has boycotted nearly all Security Council meetings where its nuclear program is discussed, is expected to speak during Friday's open session.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on China and Russian Federation to take more measures aimed at halting North Korea's nuclear weapons programme and said the US will not negotiate with the country until Pyongyang stops "threatening behaviours".
The two are co-hosting an global conference in the new year on the North Korean nuclear crisis. "However, the missile launch in November made it clear that North Korea was continuing to relentlessly develop its nuclear and missile programs even while they were seemingly silent", he told the 15-member council.