North Korea And US In 'Direct Contact' Confirms Secretary Of State
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The chances of negotiations between the US and North Korea were given a boost today after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed America is in 'direct contact' with Pyongyang.
Mr Tillerson said Washington was 'probing' the possibility of talks and to 'stay tuned'.
"We have lines of communications to Pyongyang," he said during a trip to China. "We're not in a dark situation."
Credit: PA Images
The announcement comes after Mr Trump said last month that 'talking [was] not the answer'.
The rhetoric between the two countries has become more heated in recent months as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has continued to press ahead with his country's nuclear programme.
Earlier this month North Korea threated to reduce the US to 'ashes and darkness' in response to sanctions imposed by the UN following its recent nuclear test on 3 September.
Credit: PA Images
The weapon was believed to have been around five times larger than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II and designed to fit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile. Such a missile would be capable of reaching the USA.
Following that test, the first since he had assumed the presidency, Trump referred to the state as a 'rogue nation' that 'only understands one thing'.
Writing at the time, President Trump said: "North Korea has conducted a major nuclear test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.
The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2017
"North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.
"South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!"
But according to Associated Press, the countries have been engaged in quiet discussions for months, with "diplomatic contact... occurring regularly" between the US envoy for North Korea policy and "a senior North Korean diplomat at the country's UN mission".
Sweden is reported to have played a prominent role within the negotiations as it is trusted by both countries.
In August, Ulv Hanssen from the Swedish Institute of International Affairs told Reuters that "Sweden [has served as a mediator] on numerous occasions before, especially in relation to imprisoned American."