North Korea must cease 'threatening behaviour' before talks can begin, says Tillerson

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday (Dec 15) said a "sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behaviour" was needed before the United States could talk with Pyongyang about its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

"As I said earlier this week, a sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin", Tillerson told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in NY.

So far, US -led sanctions on North Korea and diplomatic isolation haven't compelled Kim Jong Un's government to stop its nuclear and missile tests, or to seek negotiations.

Tillerson on Tuesday appeared to be waiving pre-conditions for negotiations with Pyongyang when he said his country was "ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk".

He said the campaign of economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea "must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved".

Tillerson has been seeking non-military solutions to the impasse, while other members of the administration, including President Donald Trump, have expressed skepticism about whether diplomacy can work.

The debate over offering North Korea unconditional talks reflects the differences within the Trump administration as it runs out of time to prevent North Korea from perfecting a nuclear-tipped missile that can strike the United States mainland.

North Korea conducted missile tests at a steady pace since April, then paused in September after firing a rocket that passed over Japan's Hokkaido island.

To the other members of the worldwide community, the secretary urged full implementation of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang and additional independent steps to deprive the regime of funding for its weapons programs.

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They also exchanged views on Tillerson's recent offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, but the Japanese officials did not reveal the content.

He insisted that Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons is a self-defensive measure aimed at protecting its sovereign rights from "the USA nuclear threat and blackmail".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump affirmed in Tokyo last month that they will exert the maximum possible pressure on Pyongyang to compel it to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, both of which are the subject of worldwide sanctions.

Tillerson also doubted China's commitment to "solving an issue that has serious implications for the security of its own citizens" due to the crude oil still being supplied to the North Koreans by the Chinese.

"We'd like to have Russia's help - very important", said Trump. He questioned "Russia's dedication as a partner for peace", blaming it for continuing to allow North Korean workers to toil in "slave-like conditions" for wages used to fund nuclear arms. China's deputy United Nations ambassador, Wu Haitao, called for early resumption of dialogue, saying "the parties concerned should move towards each other" instead of directing blame.

"It is time to immediately re-establish and strengthen communication channels, including inter-Korean and military-to-military channels", Guterres said. He said US experts are still doing what he called "forensic analysis".

Trump's North Korea strategy to trigger starvation?

"They know where the door is; they know where to walk through that door when they want to talk", Tillerson told reporters after the Security Council meeting ended.

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