04:45 GMT +322 October 2019
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    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gets off his plane upon his arrival in Mexico City on February 22, 2017

    Awkward: US, North Korean Diplomats Will Be in Same Room, Won’t Talk

    © AFP 2019 / Pedro Pardo
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    50th ASEAN Forum in Manila (27)

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meeting with foreign diplomats in Manila at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum next Monday could get awkward: Washington’s representative won’t utter a word to the North Korean emissaries there, even when they’re between the same four walls.

    "We have long said that North Korea has a long way to go before the US would consider having talks with them, discussions with them … they have a long way to go," US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a briefing with reporters on Thursday.

    "ASEAN is an organization that focuses on security, and perhaps North Korea is out of sync with the principles of that organization," the State Department official said. While there have been discussions between Washington and Philippines officials about expelling North Korea from the conference, where delegations from 27 countries will be present, Nauert said this would have to be a broader initiative and that the US would probably not be able to accomplish it alone.

    "They need to take steps, show us and show the world for that matter they are serious about their attempts to denuclearize. We have not seen that… they are not showing signs they are committed to [denuclearization] at this point," Nauert said.

    "We don’t think having a dialogue where North Koreans come to the table assuming they are going to maintain their nuclear weapons is productive," the spokeswoman cited Tillerson as saying. Nauert noted that Tillerson’s comments that Washington is willing to eventually sit down Pyongyang had been "misreported." 

    Until North Korea scraps their nuclear weapons program, the State Department will seek means to pressure Pyongyang in ways that “change their calculus,” Nauert added.

    ASEAN is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam created to promote social and economic progress among member states. Strong US allies from Tokyo and Seoul will also be in attendance at the ASEAN forum.

    50th ASEAN Forum in Manila (27)


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