U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson maintained Washington’s cautious tone on the prospect of substantive discussions with North Korea on Thursday, saying the U.S. and the DPRK were still a long way from sitting down at the negotiating table.
Speaking during a press conference in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, Tillerson noted the positive developments on the Korean Peninsula though added that Washington will approach the developments realistically.
“We are a long ways from negotiations … We need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it,” Tillerson said at the press conference.
“I think the first step, and I’ve said this before, is to have talks, to have some kind of talks about talks.”
The remarks follow a South Korean announcement on Tuesday that the DPRK may be willing to put discuss denuclearization providing its security was guaranteed.
Several senior U.S. figures – including President Donald Trump – have tentatively welcomed the news and indicated that Washington is open to negotiations, though also appear wary of the DPRK’s previous track record.
“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned,” the U.S. President tweeted on Tuesday.
“The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”
But also emphasizing that Washington’s maximum pressure campaign remains unchanged, Tillerson urged African nations to ensure they are enforcing sanctions on North Korea.
“I reiterate our desire for more African nations to apply concrete diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea,” Tillerson said during an earlier press conference in Addis Ababa according to a State Department press release issued on Thursday.
“The goal of the global maximum pressure campaign, which has been supported by multiple UN Security Council resolutions, is to motivate North Korea to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
According to an upcoming UN Panel of Experts (PoE) report, North Korea continues to leverage its historical relationships on the African continent to breach UN sanctions.
While the report revealed some advances in implementation and cooperation, the also PoE noted that the DPRK continues to engage in sanctions breaching cooperation with African countries and entities.
Several countries in the region also continued to withhold information from the PoE, obfuscated their ties with the DPRK, and sought to avoid questioning.
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Featured Image: Bilateral: OSCE Chairperson-in-Office & the USA by Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe on 2017-12-07 12:51:24