Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Saturday the U.S. is in direct communication with North Korea and tensions between the two countries need to cool.
“The whole situation is a bit overheated right now,” said Tillerson, according to media reports. “If North Korea would stop firing its missiles, that would calm things down a lot.”
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Tillerson, the nation’s top diplomat, made those comments during a day of meetings in China with top officials and the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The secretary’s statement, according to a New York Times report, marks the first time the Trump administration has acknowledged direct contact with the North Korean government over its continued missile and nuclear tests. It is unclear how open Pyongyang is to such talks.
“We ask, ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang — we’re not in a dark situation, a blackout,” he added. “We have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang.”
President Donald Trump has continued to ratchet up tensions with North Korea over the country’s refusal to back down from nuclear and missile testing. Trump has dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man” and, during his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly, threatened to annihilate the country if it threatens U.S. territories.
North Korea’s foreign minister later said the rhetoric amounted to a declaration of war. The White House has strongly denied such claims.