Seoul supports Tillerson's proposed talks with North Korea

By Jennie Oh  |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 5:05 AM
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SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Seoul has expressed support for talks between Washington and Pyongyang after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson showed willingness to sit down with the North "with no preconditions."

Unification ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told reporters Wednesday that South Korea agrees with Washington on pursuing a peaceful solution to the North Korea nuclear crisis, Hankook Ilbo reported. If such dialogue will help achieve that goal, then Seoul hopes for it to happen soon, he said.

Tillerson said Tuesday that while the United States cannot tolerate a nuclear-armed regime, it is unrealistic to expect the regime to dismantle its nuclear program before holding talks.

While the first meeting could be held unconditionally "anytime the North would like to talk," it would have to follow a "period of quiet," free from nuclear or missile provocations, and the North would "have to come to the table with a view that they do want to make a different choice."

From that meeting, the two sides could lay out a roadmap of what they could work toward, he said.

While Tillerson appears to have shown a change of tune from Washington's initial stance, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president's views on North Korea "have not changed."

She said, "North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China and South Korea, but the entire world."

Amid conflicting views on dialogue, there is growing speculation that U.S. special representative for North Korea policy Joseph Yun and a North Korean official may hold back-door talks this week, Yonhap reported.

The two officials are likely to engage in talks during a meeting of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific held Thursday and Friday in Thailand.

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