The U.S. State Department said on Saturday that North Korea has shown no interest in conducting denuclearization talks with Washington. A few hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that America and North Korea have “direct communication” about the matter.
Watch: U.S. bombers fly near North Korea’s east coast
After U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed on Saturday that America and North Korea are engaged in direct talks regarding the latter’s nuclear program, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert issued a statement contradicting the surprising announcement. “North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization,” she said.
Speaking to reporters in China, Tillerson said that American diplomats have “direct communication” with the North Korean government about denuclearization. “We have lines of communication to Pyongyang,” he said. “We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout.”
Kim Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
Tillerson’s announcement was considered surprising given the latest escalation in the war of words between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. During his U.N. General Assembly address, Trump called Kim “Rocket Man” and said that he is on a “suicide mission.” Trump added that if the U.S. will “totally destroy North Korea” if need be.
Tillerson Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
Kim responded a few days later by calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and then North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho slammed the U.S. president in a conversation with reporters in New York. “Since the United States declared war on our country,” he said, “we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”
A few days earlier, Ri spoke before the U.N. General Assembly and said that “Mr. Evil President [Trump]” made an “irreversible mistake that will cause our missiles to visit all of the United States’ territory” when he called Kim “Rocket Man.” He then called Trump “a crazy and power-obsessed man who controls the nuclear button.”