Speaking at a security forum in Manila, Washington’s top diplomat said Kim Jong-Un’s regime must halt ballistic missile tests if it wanted to talk to the United States about resolving the standoff.
“It’s quite clear in terms of there being no daylight between the international community as to the expectation that North Korea will take steps to achieve all of my objectives, which is a denuclearised Korean peninsula,” he said.
On Sunday, Tillerson held separate talks in Manila with foreign ministers Wang Yi of China and Sergei Lavrov of Russia, both of whom he said were in support of a tough stance on Pyongyang’s arsenal.
While Wang called for a resumption of dialogue with North Korea, Tillerson insisted Kim must first stop the missile tests.
“The best signal that North Korea could send that they’re prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” he said, holding out the prospect of US envoys sitting down with Pyongyang’s isolated regime.
But he would not set a timeframe on when this might be possible or how long North Korea might have to refrain from testing more long-rang missiles.
“We’ll know it when we see it,” he told reporters.
“I’m not going to give someone a specific number of days or weeks. This is really about the spirit of these talks.
“And they can demonstrate that they are ready to sit in the spirit of finding their way forward in these talks by no longer conducting these missile tests.”
The UN Security Council on Saturday approved a US-drafted sanctions package against North Korea that could cost it $1 billion a year in an effort to halt its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
This was in response to the North conducting two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month that Kim boasted showed he could strike any part of the United States.