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US remains interested in possible dialogue with N. Korea: Tillerson

IANS | Washington |

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday that Washington remains “interested” in engaging in dialogue with North Korea, but he warned that this depends on whether that country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, will create the conditions for that to occur.

Tillerson said he had no response to Kim’s apparent willingness to observe US actions for a while longer before deciding whether or not to carry out his threat to bombard the US territory of Guam, in the Western Pacific.

“We continue to be interested in trying to find a way to get to dialogue but that’s up to him,” Tillerson added, Efe reported.

The top US diplomat made no further comment about Kim’s decision to suspend his plans to attack Guam with the apparent aim of reducing bilateral tensions and urging the US to restrain its “foolish and stupid conduct,” according to Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA news agency.

The North Korea leader warned, however, that Pyongyang will make an “important” decision if Washington persists in undertaking such activity.

The words attributed to Kim seem to pertain to the Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises that South Korean and US troops are scheduled to initiate next Monday, exercises that the North Korean regime considers to be a provocation.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said last week the US was not ruling out dialogue with Pyongyang, with which Washington does not have diplomatic relations, but that it was not going to negotiate before getting to the negotiating table.

However, the Donald Trump administration has already engaged in certain conversations with the North Korean regime, a discrete dialogue that began in Oslo, Norway, in May 2017, according to researcher and expert in the region Susan DiMaggio, who facilitated the contacts.

Tillerson, on August 1, had told reporters that “we felt the appropriate thing to do first was to seek peaceful pressure on the regime in North Korea to have them develop a willingness to sit and talk with us and others. But with an understanding that a condition of those talks is there is no future where North Korea holds nuclear weapons or the ability to deliver those nuclear weapons to anyone in the region, much less to the homeland.”