Tillerson backtracks on unconditional NKorea talks

Associated Press

Washington — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has backtracked for an early offer of unconditional talks with North Korea.

Tillerson told the U.N. Security Council on Friday that “North Korea must earn its way back to the table.”

Tillerson floated the idea of talks without preconditions earlier in the week during a “period of quiet” in North Korean weapons tests. He was quickly contradicted by the White House.

Tillerson said Friday that diplomatic discussions must be preceded by a “sustained cessation” of the North’s threatening behavior.

He said the campaign of economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea “must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved.”

Tillerson on Friday criticized China over its oil supplies to North Korea and Russia for using North Korean laborers.

Tillerson called on the two world powers with the closest economic ties to North Korea to increase pressure over the pariah nation’s nuclear and missile programs, and go beyond full implementation of U.N. sanctions.

Tillerson said that continuing to allow North Korean laborers to toil in “slave-like conditions” for wages used to fund nuclear weapons “calls into question Russia’s dedication as a partner for peace.”

He said that with crude oil still flowing into North Korean refineries, the U.S. also questions China’s commitment to “solving an issue that has serious implications for the security of its own citizens.”

Tillerson was addressing the U.N. Security Council Friday.