Tillerson won't say whether Trump and Kim Jong Un have spoken

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined an opportunity to clarify whether President Donald Trump has spoken with No...

Posted: Jan 17, 2018 11:57 AM
Updated: Jan 17, 2018 11:57 AM

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined an opportunity to clarify whether President Donald Trump has spoken with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after the President alluded to possible communications in an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal.

The top US diplomat said Tuesday that he did not think it would be "useful" to confirm or detail any possible discussions publicly because tensions on the peninsula over North Korea's nuclear program are at a "very tenuous stage."

US and key allies met over how to handle an increasingly aggressive North Korea

Tillerson emphasizes the international community would prefer a diplomatic resolution

"When we get into who's talking to who, and what was said -- if we want that to be made known or made public, we will announce it," he told reporters at a news conference in Vancouver.

The remarks closed a day of meetings between the US and key allies over how to handle the increasingly aggressive North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile program. In all, 20 countries participated in the summit.

Tillerson vows allies won't ease up on North Korea pressure

Tillerson also declined to say whether the US was open to a limited military strike on North Korea's infrastructure to prevent broader conflict, saying, "I'm not going to comment on issues that have yet to be decided among the National Security Council or the President."

Asked whether Americans should be concerned about the potential for war with North Korea following a false missile launch alert in Hawaii over the weekend, Tillerson offered grim words of caution.

"I think we all need to be very sober and clear-eyed about the current situation," he said.

"We have to recognize that that threat is growing, and if North Korea does not choose the pathway of engagement, discussion, negotiation, then they themselves will trigger an (military) option."

Nevertheless, Tillerson once again emphasized that the United States and international community would prefer to resolve tensions diplomatically by negotiating an end to the North Korean nuclear program through talks, spurred by the increasingly heavy economic toll that international sanctions are having on the isolated country.

"What we hope they're able to realize is, the situation only gets worse," said Tillerson. "It gets worse with each step they take. It gets worse with time."

"It's time to talk," he added, "but they have to take the step that says they want to talk."

Asked whether the escalating rhetoric between Trump and Kim risks triggering a nuclear catastrophe, Tillerson's Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland, emphasized that blame for the tensions lies squarely with the North Korean regime.

"The source of the threat to the international community, the source of illegal actions, the source of the nuclearization, is North Korea," she said.

Tillerson: Relations with African nations haven't changed since Trump's comments

Earlier in Tuesday's news conference, Tillerson said the US relationship with African nations remains strong following Trump's reported use of the phrase "shithole countries" to describe them.

"We have a very positive relationship with African nations -- we share a number of security issues, we share a number of economic development issues -- and I think those leaders know that the United States wants that relationship to continue to be strong," he said. "We know they want that relationship to be strong, as well."

Trump faced a wave of international outrage after reports emerged about his remarks last week in a meeting with lawmakers on immigration.

The President has denied using the vulgar term, but several lawmakers assert he did.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 57162

Reported Deaths: 1660
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Hennepin18197820
Ramsey7047261
Dakota4049103
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Stearns284220
Washington193843
Nobles17496
Olmsted163523
Scott141017
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Clay75240
Kandiyohi6771
Sherburne6577
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Todd4202
Lyon4163
Freeborn3551
Steele3331
Nicollet32013
Benton3103
Watonwan2990
Winona24916
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Martin2045
Le Sueur2021
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Goodhue1778
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Itasca13412
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Murray1221
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Rock750
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Grant511
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Pope450
Houston390
Norman370
Hubbard320
Redwood320
Marshall290
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Wilkin283
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Mahnomen241
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake200
Lake180
Stevens160
Clearwater150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson30
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 46100

Reported Deaths: 887
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9781203
Woodbury365651
Black Hawk302262
Linn214587
Johnson195915
Dallas179635
Buena Vista178612
Scott161512
Dubuque154929
Marshall139424
Pottawattamie122723
Story111714
Wapello85032
Muscatine83048
Webster7366
Crawford7213
Sioux6022
Cerro Gordo57917
Tama53929
Warren5341
Jasper45825
Wright4441
Plymouth4438
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3213
Washington28810
Hamilton2411
Boone2312
Franklin2256
Bremer1927
Clarke1883
Carroll1821
Emmet1812
Clay1711
Shelby1691
Hardin1660
Marion1550
Allamakee1504
Poweshiek1508
Benton1451
Jackson1411
Des Moines1392
Mahaska13617
Floyd1312
Guthrie1285
Jones1242
Cedar1201
Hancock1172
Butler1152
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Henry1143
Pocahontas1141
Lyon1060
Madison1052
Clayton993
Cherokee981
Harrison980
Lee973
Taylor930
Humboldt921
Delaware911
Iowa901
Monona900
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Sac810
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Jefferson770
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Mitchell760
Page760
Grundy741
Union721
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Howard490
Cass481
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Greene380
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Keokuk311
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