US ready for North Korea talks 'without preconditions'

Washington (AFP) –


The United States is ready to begin talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament without prior conditions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday.

"We're ready to have the first meeting without preconditions," Tillerson told a meeting on the crisis at the Atlantic Council policy forum in Washington.

"Let's just meet and let's talk about the weather if you want and talk about whether it's going to be a square table or a round table if that's what you're excited about."

This appeared to represent a softening in the US position, seeing as officials had previously demanded that Kim Jong-Un's regime demonstrate a willingness to consider giving up their arsenal.

But elsewhere in his remarks, Tillerson insisted the US-led pressure campaign of economic and diplomatic sanctions would continue until "the first bomb drops."

He stressed that Washington "simply cannot accept a nuclear armed North Korea" and that President Donald Trump "intends to ensure that they do not have deliverable nuclear weapons to (reach) the shores of the United States."