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1-min read

Rex Tillerson to North Korea on Talks: 'I'm Listening'

An Olympic-driven thaw in relations between Kim Jong Un's nuclear-armed North Korean regime and South Korea has raised speculation that direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang could be on the horizon after months of sharp tension and heated rhetoric.

AFP

Updated:February 18, 2018, 7:31 AM IST
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Rex Tillerson to North Korea on Talks: 'I'm Listening'
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
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Washington: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in an interview to air on Sunday that he is "listening" for signs that North Korea is ready to engage in direct talks.

"My job as a chief diplomat is to ensure that the North Koreans know, we keep our channels open," Tillerson told the CBS news show "60 Minutes."

"I am listening. I am not sending a lot of messages back because there's nothing to say to them at this point. So I am listening to you to tell me you are ready to talk," he said, according to excerpts of the interview.

An Olympic-driven thaw in relations between Kim Jong Un's nuclear-armed North Korean regime and South Korea has raised speculation that direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang could be on the horizon after months of sharp tension and heated rhetoric.

"They will tell me," Tillerson told "60 Minutes."

"We receive messages from them, and I think it will be very explicit as to how we want to have that first conversation."

The top US diplomat, however, stressed that no incentive was being offered to get Pyongyang to the table.

"We are not using a carrot to convince them to talk, we are using large sticks — and that is what they need to understand," he said.

"This pressure campaign is having its bite on North Korea."

The North is subject to a series of UN Security Council sanctions over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The United States has previously indicated Washington is open to direct talks, but Tillerson stressed earlier this month that the ball was now in Pyongyang's camp.

"We've said for some time it's really up to the North Koreans to decide when they're ready to engage with us in a sincere way, a meaningful way," Tillerson said on February 12, while on a stop in Cairo.

| Edited by: Puja Menon
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