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(LEAD) White House snubs Tillerson's offer for talks with N. Korea

All News 08:58 December 14, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with State Department comments in last 3 paras)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- The White House said Wednesday that now is not the time for talks with North Korea, a day after the top U.S. diplomat offered unconditional dialogue with the nuclear-armed regime.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that Washington is "ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk," and is willing to have the first meeting "without precondition."

It was unclear whether the diplomat had approval from U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been dismissive of any effort to negotiate with Pyongyang.

"Given North Korea's most recent missile test, clearly now is not the time," a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said in emailed remarks to Yonhap.

North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29, breaking a 75-day pause in weapons testing from the regime. The new missile, according to Pyongyang, is capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to all parts of the U.S. mainland.

"Administration policy on North Korea has not changed," the spokesperson said. "As we have stated repeatedly, we are open to the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, with the aim of de-nuclearizing the Korean peninsula."

For talks to take place, North Korea must first refrain from further provocations and "take sincere and meaningful actions toward denuclearization," he added.

Citing Tillerson, the spokesperson said the U.S. will "know it when we see it" as to the right time for talks.

"The administration is united in insisting that any negotiations with North Korea must wait until the regime fundamentally improves its behavior," he said. "This administration will not repeat the failed policies of the past."

The State Department echoed those remarks, saying it remains "on the same page" as the White House.

"The secretary was not creating a new policy. Our policy remains exactly the same as it was," the department's spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a regular press briefing.

"We remain open to dialogue when North Korea is willing to conduct a credible dialogue on the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."


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