White House again rejects talks with North Korea | News | DW | 03.10.2017
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White House again rejects talks with North Korea

The White House has reiterated a tweet from President Donald Trump in which he dismissed any talks with Pyongyang as a waste of time. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the US was communicating with North Korea.

The White House said on Monday it was not the time to talk with Pyongyang, dampening Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's efforts to explore the possibility of dialogue with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

"We've been clear that now is not the time to talk," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

She added that the only conversations the US is willing to have with North Korea are about the fate of the three Americans being held there. "Beyond that, there will be no conversations with North Korea at this time."

The Trump administration has demanded North Korea release three US citizens it has detained: missionary Kim Dong Chul and academics Tony Kim and Kim Hak Song.

Tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent weeks, with Pyongyang conducting its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3.

US President Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson in Washington

Officials close to Tillerson dismissed any suggestion of a rift between him and President Trump

Trump and Tillerson on the same page?

Tillerson said on Saturday during a trip to China that the United States had multiple channels of direct communication open with North Korea and officials will look into whether further talks could take place.

Trump undercut his chief diplomat just hours later in a Twitter post, saying Tiller was "wasting his time." Trump advised Tillerson to save his energy rather than negotiate with "Little Rocket Man," using his sarcastic nickname for the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But officials close to Tillerson insisted that the pair were on the same page, and dismissed any rift between the White House and State Department.

"I think the president is demonstrating skepticism on whether the North Koreans will change behavior, since there has been zero indication during the summer they will do so," said Tillerson's senior adviser on public affairs, RC Hammond. "He isn't demonstrating skepticism on Secretary Tillerson's statements and strategy."

When asked on Monday if Trump still had confidence in Tillerson as secretary of state, Sanders said: "He does."

ap/gsw (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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