Tillerson: Trump will have ‘talks’ not ‘negotiations’ with North Korea

Tillerson: Trump will have ‘talks’ not ‘negotiations’ with North Korea
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Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTrump uses Nowruz to hit Iranian regime Trump informally offered Cohn CIA job before changing his mind: report Trump is not the first president to fire Cabinet officials to bury news MORE on Friday seemed to downplay the importance of President TrumpDonald John TrumpLieu: There will be 'widespread civil unrest' if Trump fires Mueller Attorneys for Trump, Mueller hold face-to-face meeting to discuss potential interview topics: report Trump tariffs not helpful for nuclear talks, South Korea says MORE's planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, drawing the distinction between "talks" with North Korea and full-fledged "negotiations."

The Associated Press reports Tillerson made the distinction in an interview, but declined to further explain his meaning. It's unclear what Trump would discuss with Kim other than the country's growing nuclear weapons program, which the U.S. staunchly opposes.


Tillerson added that the North Korean leader had shown a "fairly dramatic" change of posture, one that had surprised the U.S. administration and prompted Trump's decision to hold talks.

“What changed was his posture in a fairly dramatic way,” Tillerson said. “In all honesty, that came as a little bit of a surprise to us as well.”

“This is something he’s had on his mind for quite some time,” he continued. “So now I think it’s a question of agreeing on the timing of that first meeting between the two of them and a location and that will take some weeks before we get all that worked out.”

It was “a decision the president took himself," Tillerson added to the AP.

Trump's shocking announcement Thursday night that he would meet with North Korea's leader came after weeks of U.S. officials including Tillerson insisting that the time was not right for formal talks between the two nations, as North Korea has hastened its pace of missile tests in recent months.

The president tweeted Thursday night that Kim talked "denuclearization" with South Korean officials and that the country would halt its missile tests in preparation for the meeting.

"Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!" he tweeted.