Tillerson backtracks on North Korea

Secretary of State says North Korea must "earn its way back" to the negotiating table.

Elad Benari, Canada,

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday backtracked from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, saying the isolated country must "earn its way back" to the negotiating table, according to AFP.

Tillerson told the UN Security Council that a "sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin".

Earlier this week at a policy forum in Washington, Tillerson underlined that the United States was seeking a diplomatic opening for negotiations with North Korea on ending its nuclear program and, for the first time, offered "talks with no preconditions."

The White House had responded to Tillerson's remarks by insisting there has been no change in U.S. policy.

The State Department clarified Tillerson’s comments this week by explaining that the United States would be open to talking to North Korea "when the time is right" but that it could not happen now because Pyongyang has shown no sign of a willingness to halt its missile and nuclear testing.

At the United Nations on Friday, with North Korea's ambassador looking on, Tillerson took a tough line.

"North Korea must earn its way back to the table," he said. "The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved."

"We will, in the meantime, keep our channels of communication open," he added, according to AFP.

Tillerson repeated that "we do not seek, nor do we want, war with North Korea."

"The United States will use all necessary measures to defend itself against North Korean aggression, but our hope remains that diplomacy will produce a resolution," he said.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)