NEW YORK — The Trump administration is willing to bargain directly with North Korea over ending its nuclear weapons program, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday, an apparent shift in policy aimed at strengthening international resolve against what the Trump administration considers a growing menace.
“Obviously, that will be the way we would like to solve this,” Tillerson said in an interview with NPR scheduled to air Friday, when the United States is convening an unusual high-level meeting at the United Nations devoted to the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
“But North Korea has to decide they’re ready to talk to us about the right agenda, and the right agenda is not simply stopping where they are for a few more months or a few more years and then resuming things. That’s been the agenda for the last 20 years.”
It is not fully clear what that means, but in the NPR interview and another Thursday with Fox News, Tillerson began to sketch a diplomatic approach for the new administration that focuses on international pressure and leveraging China’s economic power over its impoverished ally.
The U.N. Security Council session Friday comes at a particularly tense time in relations between North Korea and the United States, with the Trump administration sending warships to the region in a show of force against Kim Jong Un’s regime.