Trump balks at his Secretary of State's foreign policy (again)

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In an unusual statement released to reporters on Tuesday evening, the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Mr. Trump's position on North Korea had not changed - namely, that talks were pointless if the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, continued to menace his neighbors.

"Given North Korea's most recent missile test, clearly right now is not the time [for negotiations]", a White House spokesman said to Reuters on Wednesday.

"Our policy remains exactly the same as it was", Ms Nauert said, calling diplomacy the administration's "top priority" and saying "we remain open to dialogue when North Korea is willing to conduct a credible dialogue on the peaceful de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

Tillerson said the US has assured China that in the event that American troops had to cross north of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, it would retreat back south once stability returned.

"We're ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk", Tillerson told Washington's Atlantic Council think tank on Tuesday. "We need the DPRK to come to the table for talks".

Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the USA and South Korea to engage North Korea in diplomacy instead of economic sanctions to dissuade nuclear threats, warning against an escalation of tensions. "We are not seeing any evidence that they are ready to sit down and have those kinds of conversations".

Mr Tillerson said: "In the meantime our military preparedness is strong".

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"Pakistan has allowed so many terrorist organizations to find safe haven within its territories, and these organizations are growing in size and influence, that at some point I have said to the leadership of Pakistan, you may be the target, and they turn their attention from Kabul and decide they like Islamabad as a target better", said Tillerson. "We've long had a trilateral relationship in the Indo-Pacific between Japan, Australia, and the USA, and we're now working towards whether this will become a quad relationship to include India because of the importance of India's rising economy as well and I think shared national security concerns that we have with India", said Tillerson.

"North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China, and South Korea, but the entire world. The last time the North Koreans came to the table was because China cut off the oil".

"It surely is out of line with the U.S.' previous posture and seems to be moving toward the North's demand to some extent", said James Kim, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

An estimated 18 million North Koreans, or 70 percent of the population, suffer from acute food shortages and aid agencies provide "literally a lifeline" for 13 million of them, al Hussein said.

"It's not going to be anything that happens right away", Tillerson said in comments he made at the State Department, The New York Times reported, "Probably no earlier than three years out, and that's pretty ambitious". A key pillar of the Trump Administration's strategy is pressuring China into imposing sanctions on Pyongyang - specifically, as Tillerson stated on December 12, the president "would like to see" China to stop supplying North Korea with oil. "We believe that [Tillerson's remarks] emphasized once again the U.S. position that North Korea needs to halt its provocations and threats and return to dialogue".

A top United Nations official-political chief Jeffrey Feltman-made a rare visit to North Korea last week amid the rising danger of war in a bid to defuse tensions and initiate talks, but to no avail. "Because we already see elements of it in the commercial marketplace", he said.

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