U.S. in Direct Communication With North Korea, Says Tillerson
BEIJING — The Trump administration acknowledged on Saturday for the first time that it was in direct communication with the government of North Korea over its missile and nuclear tests, seeking a possible way forward beyond the escalating threats of a military confrontation from both sides.
“We are probing, so stay tuned,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said, when pressed about how he might begin a conversation with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, that could avert what many government officials fear is a significant chance of open conflict between the two countries.
“We ask, ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang — we’re not in a dark situation, a blackout,” he added. “We have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang,” a reference to North Korea’s capital.
Speaking at the residence of the United States ambassador to Beijing after a meeting with China’s top leadership, Mr. Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil and a newcomer to diplomacy, was cagey about whether the inquiries yielded anything, or seem likely to.
But hours after he left China, his spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, responding to news reports of Mr. Tillerson’s comments, said in a statement that “despite assurances that the United States is not interested in promoting the collapse of the current regime” or sending American forces into the country, “North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or ready for talks regarding denuclearization.”
His comments marked the first sign that the Trump administration has been trying its own version of what the Obama administration did with Iran: using a series of backchannel, largely secret communications that, after years of negotiation, resulted in a nuclear accord.
But Mr. Tillerson was quick to distinguish the very different circumstances of North Korea and Iran — Pyongyang has nuclear weapons, Tehran just a program that could have led to them — and then added: “We are not going to put together a nuclear deal in North Korea that is as flimsy as the one in Iran.”
They have a direct link to Bloato's nanny?