Tillerson 'wasting his time' trying to negotiate with North Korea

North Korea nuclear cloud

President Xi Jinping met with visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Saturday, discussing US President Donald Trump's state visit to China later this year.

In an extraordinary tweet that appears to put the President at loggerheads with his Secretary of State over a key U.S. policy, Mr Trump indicated he had little faith in Rex Tillerson's diplomatic efforts to defuse the North Korea situation.

Trump's tweets on Sunday seem to directly counter Tillerson's stated goal to use direct communication to lower tension between the two hostile nations.

His comments come a day after Mr Tillerson revealed that United States officials had some communication channels open with Pyongyang, despite the escalating war of words between the leaders of both countries.

Following Tillerson's statements, the State Department said that "North Korean officials [had] shown no indication that they are interested in, or are ready for talks regarding denuclearisation", in a bid to tamp down expectations.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly two weeks ago, the United States president threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary.

The secretary of state described that situation as "a bit overheated right now", insisting "everyone would like for it to calm down". Obviously it would help for North Korea to stop firing off missiles. "That'd calm things down a lot", he said.

Asked if the President's tweets indicate he has chose to abandon the diplomatic track on North Korea, a senior administration official told CNN: "We are still committed to a diplomatic approach".

Last month, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test and in recent months it has launched missiles multiple times, which experts say could reach the mainland US.

On Thursday, Beijing ordered North Korean-owned businesses and ventures with Chinese partners to close by early January, days after it said it would cut off gas and limit shipments of refined petroleum products, effective Jan. 1. The US and North Korea have ramped up their rhetoric about one another as Pyongyang continues to develop its nuclear weapons program.

"There appear to be two trains of thought in the worldwide community regarding denuclearization of the peninsula: Crush North Korea or talk to North Korea so as to increase its sense of security".

In addition to North Korea, the US and China have other security concerns to address.

Mr Tillerson said, however, that Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.

They are at odds over Beijing's military buildup and assertive claims to disputed islands in the South China Sea. Trump's planned visit next month will come weeks after Xi is expected to receive a new five-year term as leader of the ruling Communist Party.

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