Having arrived in Beijing for the talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on September 30, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that the United States had multiple direct channels of communication with Pyongyang and that it was probing North Korea to see if it was interested in dialogue.
On October 1, US President Donald Trump tweeted “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”
Later tweets urged Tillerson to “save his energy” as “we’ll do what has to be done!”
“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail,” President Trump tweeted.
US officials have attempted to play down Donald Trump’s opposition to the possibility of talks with North Korea, saying the president and his secretary of state were in agreement on how to deal with the regime.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on October 3 said America’s focus was still on finding a diplomatic solution to the dispute with Pyongyang. “President Trump’s guidance to both Secretary Tillerson and me has been very clearly that we would … pursue the diplomatic effort to include with the various initiatives with China,” Mattis told a Senate hearing.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization.”
Pyongyang previously threatened to shoot down American planes flying near the Korean peninsula without even entering the Korean airspace, and claimed to have almost 5 million people signing up to join the military in order to fight against the US
Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have grown as North Korea has tested missiles and a nuclear device, part of its aim to develop a nuclear weapon that could reach the US mainland. Several missiles fired have flown over Japan and Pyongyang threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific ocean.
According to Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera, Japan will not seek to shoot down North Korean missile tests unless they threaten its territory.
“The recent missile tests by North Korea passed at high altitude and there was no fear of them falling in our territory or territorial waters so we did not shoot them down,” Onodera said.
Intercepting the missiles would be complicated by the sensitivities imposed by Japan’s pacifist constitution. The missiles could be intercepted however if they had been targeting US territory in Hawaii, according to new Japanese national security litigation.