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Washington sends mixed signals to Pyongyang

Posted August. 03, 2017 07:27,   

Updated August. 03, 2017 08:31


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday (local time) that the United States "would like to sit and have a dialog with them (North Korea)." While Tillerson made his comment on "a condition of those talks is there is no future where North Korea holds nuclear weapons or the ability to deliver those nuclear weapons to anyone in the region, much less the (U.S.) homeland," he suggested an exit strategy by opening possibilities of dialogues with the North, which tested its second Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Hwasong-14.

Tillerson also made it clear that Washington maintained a status quo on its policy towards the Korean Peninsula, saying, "We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel." He denied possibilities of a military sanction, saying, "Other options were not particularly attractive." On China, the Secretary of State reiterated the importance of its role as an ally by urging Beijing to use its influence to create the conditions for "productive dialog."

His remarks can be interpreted as a summary amid mixed public discussions which consider unfeasible options such as using military prowess or regime change. Still, the Korean government is also keeping attention to the current debate, as the recent comments may suggest a signal that Washington may come up to the table to hold bilateral talks with Pyongyang. On Tuesday, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "It is indeed certainly not an issue to be overlooked. We are closely checking the direction of Washington at the current time."

However, some also point out that the mixed messages from the U.S. may eventually end up as a "live debate," as there are still hawkish U.S. lawmakers who insist the U.S. should consider military options.

Yong Park parky@donga.com · Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com