As news broke out over Mike Pence’s agreement terms for future diplomatic engagement with North Korea, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson immediately put a halt to the Vice President’s plans.
On Monday, Tillerson said it will be “up to North Korea” to decide when it is ready to engage in serious and meaningful diplomatic talks with the US. He says in a news conference:
“As to the vice president’s comments about potentially having talks and whether it’s the start of a diplomatic process, I think it’s too early to judge. As 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, a meaningful way.”
On the contrary, Pence told The Washington Post that the US and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had agreed on further engagement with North Korea. Pence said potential talks are contingent upon North Korea’s movement toward denuclearization.
Pence told The Post:
“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization.”
“So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify.”
For several months, administration officials had said they would only engage in talks with the Kim regime when Pyongyang had taken steps to denuclearize. But after an early January phone call between President Trump and Mr. Moon in the South, the White House said it was open to talks with the North “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances.”
Trump has undermined diplomatic outreach to North Korea several times. Just hours after Tillerson’s remarks, the White House abruptly put out a statement saying: “The President’s views on North Korea have not changed.” In other words, the US would not sit down with Pyongyang until it agreed to put ending its nuclear program on the table.
Whether it is the right time or not is not the issue. The problem is that Trump’s administration never manages to get their story straight. This administration is essentially telling North Korea, “we’ll talk if you agree to our terms upfront.” That is not the way we should be negotiating. It has been over a year now, and this White House has done nothing but cause chaos, confusion, and dysfunction within our nation. What is more severe, is that Donald Trump does not have a grip on his own administration. If anything, he just adds more collateral damage with his loud-mouth remarks to North Korea.
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