The US is ready to talk any time with North Korea without preconditions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.
Hours after that, the White House maintained status quo making one wonder whether Tillerson’s speech was approved by President Donald Trump.
A top UN official Jeffrey Feltman, who just completed a four-day trip to Pyongyang, said North Korea wants to prevent war and the door to a negotiated solution should be opened wide.
Tillerson and Feltman were on the same page while Trump seemed to send the message that pursuing talks with North Korea is mere waste of time.
Speaking at the Atlantic Council policy forum on Tuesday, Tillerson said while the US cannot accept a nuclear armed North Korea, it is ready for talks if Pyongyang ensures a “period of quiet” without missile and nuclear tests.
Until now, the US had been insisting that talks are possible only if North Korea comes to the table ready to give up its nuclear arsenal.
Soon after Tillerson made the comments, White House said Trump’s views on North Korea “have not changed”.
Sarah Sanders, the President’s press secretary, said North Korea is acting in an unsafe way towards the entire world.
White House’s reaction to Tillerson’s comments is significant as they contradict his views and hint at his waning influence within the administration.
China has welcomed Tillerson’s remarks. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the US and North Korea can take meaningful steps on dialogue and contact.
Japan, on the hand, wanted the US to pressure North Korea through sanctions to give up its nuclear programmes.
Analysts said talks with North Korea without preconditions are risky as the country has previously violated nuclear deals.
Anthony Ruggiero, a former US officials, said talks should begin only after ensuring that North Korea has halted missile and nuclear tests.