WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at a press briefing that while the US wants to hold talks with North Korea, now is not the right time.
The remarks follow the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statement on Tuesday that the United States is ready to begin negotiations and work on a roadmap with North Korea without preconditions.
"All of what the Secretary [of State Rex Tillerson] has said, and the administration has said in the past is that we are willing to sit down and have conversations with them, but now is not the right time," Nauert said. "The Secretary was not creating any new policy. Our policy remains exactly the same as it was."
"[Tillerson] will continue to call on all member states to work together and maintain maximum pressure on the DPRK [North Korea] in order to compel North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs," she said, noting that Tillerson is set to attend a UN Security Council Ministerial briefing in New York City on Friday that will deal with the issue of the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.
At the 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum meeting in Washington Tillerson said the US was "ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk".
"But they have to come to the table with the view that they do want to make a different choice. Let's just meet and let's talk about the weather if you want. We can talk about whether it's going to be a square table or a round table," the Secretary of State said. "Then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map, of what we might be willing to work towards."
"It's going to be tough to talk if in the middle of our talks you decide to test another device. I think they clearly understand that if we are going to talk, we have to have a period of quiet," he said.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism regarding negotiating with North Korea. The White House on Tuesday sought to downplay Tillerson's remarks, saying that Trump has not changed his position on North Korea which is acting in an unsafe manner towards the region and the world.
Washington and Pyongyang haven't sat down for formal negotiations since 2009.