Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to make a major change to the US position with respect to possible direct negotiations with North Korea, saying Tuesday that he is prepared to engage in such talks without preconditions.
Historically, the US has demanded North Korea unilaterally disarm before they would even consider negotiations, something which North Korea has long refused, arguing they need to deter the US from just attacking them outright.
As North Korea’s deterrent capabilities expand, the Secretary of State may believe he can no longer simply wait indefinitely on North Korean capitulation. This also comes amid Russian officials saying North Korea is “ready” for such talks, which would make it embarrassing for the US to stand in the way of it.
Tillerson also said he’d continue to push for diplomacy “until the first bomb drops,” echoing comments he made in the past. Other administration officials have suggested “time is running out” before a US attack on North Korea, but have not offered a timeline on that.