Tillerson says U.S. talking to North Korea amid mounting tension

The United States and North Korea are still talking, but it remains unclear if the two sides will strike a peace deal anytime soon.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed Saturday the Trump administration is speaking with strongman Kim Jong Un’s North Korean government.

“We have lines of communications to Pyongyang,” the top diplomat said during a trip to Beijing. “We’re not in a dark situation.”

Whether North Korea would be open to some sort of peace agreement is too soon to tell.

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“We are probing, so stay tuned,” he said.

Tillerson, seen shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said the U.S. has a line to Pyongyang.

Tillerson, seen shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said the U.S. has a line to Pyongyang.

(POOL/REUTERS)

State Department officials later clarified Pyongyang hasn’t signaled it’s open to a deal to shutter its fledging nuclear weapons program.

“Despite assurances that the United States is not interested in promoting the collapse of the current regime, pursuing regime change accelerating reunification of the peninsula or mobilizing forces of the DMZ (demilitarized zone), North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization,” the department said in a statement to ABC News.

Just a week ago Tillerson’s North Korean counterpart launched salvo at the U.S. while speaking at the United Nations.

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He claimed North Korea’s weapon tests — headlined by an intercontinental ballistic missile and a hydrogen bomb — were merely defense measures against what he called U.S. aggression.

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“I think the most immediate action that we need is to calm things down,” Tillerson told reporters. “They’re a little overheated right now. And I think we need to calm them down first.”

He declined to say if that meant toning down President Trump’s rhetoric. The commander-in-chief recently referred to North Korean dictator “Kim Jong Un” as “Rocket Man” who was “on a suicide mission.”

Tillerson’s Beijing trip, his second since become secretary of state, is a bid to put pressure on China to take a tougher stance on North Korea.

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Beijing has backed away from supporting the hermetic nation, which counts China as its largest trading partner, as it’s hit with tougher and tougher sanctions.

With News Wire Services 

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rex tillerson
north korea

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