The Associated PressDJIBOUTI (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson drew a distinction Friday between “talks” with North Korea and “negotiations,” arguing that U.S. President Donald Trump’s willingness to chat with Kim Jong Un shouldn’t be construed as anything more than that.
The stunning announcement that Trump had agreed to a meeting with the North Korean leader raised questions about what had changed after months of Tillerson and other Trump officials insisting the conditions weren’t right for negotiations with Pyongyang. Tillerson said that Trump has been open to mere talks and a meeting with Kim “for some time,” and had decided on Thursday that “the time was right.”
“In the president’s judgment, that time has arrived now,” Tillerson told reporters in Djibouti during a trip to Africa.
Tillerson did not define the precise difference between talks and negotiations, and it was unclear what the two countries — still technically at war — would have to discuss if not a deal to address concerns about the North’s nuclear weapons program. Ostensibly, they could hold preliminary conversations to see if there’s enough common ground and goodwill to proceed to formal negotiations.Speech