Tillerson to N. Korea: ‘We are not your enemy’

by WorldTribune Staff, August 2, 2017

The United States is “not the enemy” of North Korea and is not seeking the downfall of the Kim Jong-Un regime, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Aug. 1.

“We’re trying to convey to the North Koreans, ‘We are not your enemy. We’re not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond,’ ” Tillerson said during a State Department press briefing.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: ‘We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel.’ / AFP

“We do not seek a regime change. We do not seek the collapse of the regime,” Tillerson said. “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.”

Tillerson added that “at some point,” North Korea “will begin to understand that and that we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that will give them the security they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea, but that will then promote economic prosperity throughout Northeast Asia.”

The Kim Jong-Un regime said last week’s test of an ICBM that it says is capable of reaching the continental United States was a “stern” warning to the U.S.

Some analysts in the U.S. believe North Korea could have the technology to field a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile as early as next year.

Tillerson said the Trump administration had first pursued a campaign of “peaceful pressure” on Pyongyang in the hopes that it would result in talks about its nuclear program.

“But with an understanding that 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, to the homeland,” he said.

Alan Romberg, director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center, said in an email to Yonhap that Tillerson’s remarks were an “excellent” statement of where U.S. policy is and ought to be.

“North Korea would do well to test this statement through engaging in serious dialogue that holds denuclearization out as its ultimate goal, meanwhile suspending tests and other activities that lead the United States and others to adopt defensive postures that Pyongyang sees as threatening.”

“Given the history of enmity and mistrust, this is no doubt a hard message for the North to accept at face value. But I believe it is sincere and worth the North exploring,” Romberg said.

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