Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied Friday that there was “daylight” between President Trump’s policy on North Korea and its implementation by Tillerson’s State Department, as he also warned that the U.S. military is “prepared.”
“The president’s policy on North Korea is quite clear, and there is no daylight at all between the president’s policy and the pursuit of that policy,” Tillerson said at a brief press conference at the United Nations when asked if he was on the same page as the president. “The president has been very clear that we are going to lead this pressure campaign, we are going to unite the international community, keep the pressure as much as we can, and increase it where possible.”
President Trump has adopted a muscular policy in the face of aggression from North Korea, and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has secured strong sanctions resolutions at the U.N. Security Council.
Tillerson raised eyebrows this week when he said the U.S. would talk to North Korea without preconditions. In his remarks at the press conference, he struck a more hawkish pose, saying, “The president has been very clear; militarily, we are going to be prepared should something go wrong and our military is prepared.”
On the question of preconditions, he focused on preconditions that North Korea had placed on talks and asserted that such preconditions were not acceptable to the U.S.:
We are not going to accept preconditions. You heard others have called for freeze-for-freeze. We do not accept freeze-for-freeze as a precondition to talks. We do not accept any relaxing of the sanctions regime as a precondition of talks. We do not accept the resumption of humanitarian assistance as a precondition of talks, so we are not going to accept preconditions for these talks.
China and Russia have proposed the so-called freeze-for-freeze by which North Korea de-escalates its missile tests in return for South Korea and the U.S.’s halting military exercises in the region. The veto-wielding Security Council members claim it would be the first step on a roadmap to peace and a broader de-escalation of hostilities. The Trump administration has repeatedly dismissed the plan.
Tillerson also urged support from other nations on the Security Council, saying that North Korea’s recent missile tests show a total disregard for “the entire international community.”
Ultimately, he said it was up to the North Koreans to decide if they wanted to have dialogue.
“Our communication channels remain open,” he said. “North Korea knows they’re open. They know where the door is. They know where to walk through that door when they want to talk.”
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.