Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a press conference at the 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum that while the U.S. and Russian Federation do not have a working relationship at the moment, President Trump believes it is extremely important to establish one.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on the U.S. -Korea relationship during a forum at the Atlantic Council in Washington, U.S. December 12, 2017.
Speaking at the Atlantic Council policy forum, Mr Tillerson said that the U.S. "simply can not accept a nuclear armed North Korea". "Let's just meet. We can talk about the weather if you want".
He further emphasised that it is "not realistic" to expect North Korea to stop its nuclear programme for talks with the US. "We're ready to talk anytime they're ready to talk, but they have to come to the table and they have to come to the table with a view that they're ready to make a different choice".
It's the first time the US secretary of state has expressed willingness to talk to the North without preconditions.
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The White House later issued an ambiguous statement that left unclear whether President Donald Trump - who has said Tillerson was wasting his time pursuing dialogue with North Korea - had given his approval for the speech.
By Kim Wing summialo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia CommonsToday, Tillerson, surprised the world by changing the United States' stance on diplomatic talks with the isolationist dictatorship.
Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman of Seoul's Unification Ministry, said of Tillerson's comments that Seoul wishes for talks to "happen soon" if they contribute to the goal of finding a peaceful solution for the North Korean nuclear problem. "They've voiced their view of how effective they think those may be, but we do need Russia's support".
"But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face, and then we can begin to lay out a map, a roadmap of what we might be willing to work towards", Tillerson said.
This appeared to represent a softening in the U.S. position, seeing as officials had previously demanded that Kim Jong-Un's regime demonstrate a willingness to consider giving up their arsenal.
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Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, the last living astronaut who was a part of the Apollo 17 mission, was also present at the ceremony. Trump said. " We're dreaming big ", he added.
"The Trump administration should insist that North Korea commit to denuclearization upfront to avoid the failed negotiations of the past and any testing freeze is accompanied by verification that the programs do not continue during the negotiations", Anthony Ruggiero, a former US State Department and Treasury Department official, said in a tweet.
"He made clear that initial meeting (s) can begin without preconditions and without North Korea committing to denuclearization. They have too much invested in it", he said.
"Let's just meet", the top USA diplomat told an audience of around 300.
Relations between the United States and Russian Federation hit a low point amid U.S. allegations that the Kremlin ordered a campaign to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election.
While addressing the audience at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California, he said: "I think it's increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem", reported CNN.
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"That's not the path we want to take", Tillerson said.