Tillerson to North Korea: We're not your enemy

Secretary of State stresses the United States wants to have dialogue with North Korea.

Ben Ariel ,

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday said the United States wants to “have a dialogue” with North Korea.

“We are trying to convey to the North Koreans, we are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond,” said Tillerson in a conversation with reporters at the State Department, according to The Hill.

“And we hope that at some point, they would begin to understand that and then we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that will give them the security they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea,” he added.

His comments come days after North Korea’s latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The test followed a previous test of an ICBM which North Korea conducted on July 4.

On Monday, two American officials assessed, based on last week’s test, that North Korea's missiles may now be able to reach most of the continental United States.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Tillerson also appeared to contradict President Donald Trump over China’s role in reining in Pyongyang, saying the United States does not hold China responsible for the current situation.

“We certainly don’t blame the Chinese for the situation in North Korea,” he said. “Only the North Koreans are to blame for this situation.”

After Pyongyang’s test, Trump lashed out at China, saying on Twitter the country has done “nothing.”

"I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk," Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. "We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”

On Tuesday, Tillerson said the administration has been pursuing “peaceful pressure” on the government of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un up to now.

Tillerson added China has been “very clear” that it shares the same objective as the United States of a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

But, he continued, the United States believes China has a “special and unique” relationship that can influence North Korea in ways others can’t.

“That’s why we continue to call upon them to use that influence with North Korea to create the conditions where we can have a productive dialogue,” he was quoted as having said.