Tillerson to press 'maximum pressure' on North Korea at UN briefing

Tillerson to press 'maximum pressure' on North Korea at UN briefing
© Camille Fine

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonUS steps up its game in Africa, a continent open for business Matt Drudge shares mock ‘Survivor’ cover suggesting more White House officials will leave this summer 'Daily Show' trolls Trump over Pruitt's resignation MORE will seek to rally United Nations Security Council members on Friday to put pressure on North Korea, according to a State Department spokeswoman.

Tillerson is set to participate in a Security Council Ministerial Briefing regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons program on Friday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Wednesday. The top diplomat will reaffirm the Trump administration's push for "maximum pressure" on Pyongyang to give up its weapons programs.

The scheduled meeting comes on the heels of an apparent discrepancy within the Trump administration over its position on North Korea.

Tillerson said in remarks at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday that the U.S was prepared to open up talks with North Korea "without precondition," and that the reclusive country's nuclear program did not have to be on the table during an initial meeting.

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The White House quickly distanced itself from Tillerson's comments. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Tuesday that the Trump administration's posture toward North Korea had not changed.

"North Korea is acting in an unsafe way not only toward Japan, China, and South Korea, but the entire world," she said. "North Korea's actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea." 
 
 
Nauert appeared to walk back part of Tillerson's remarks in a State Department press briefing on Wednesday, saying that in order for the talks to be possible, North Korea would have to cease nuclear and missile tests for a period of time. Pyongyang has not signalled any interest in doing so, she said.
 
"Kim Jong Un is not showing any level of seriousness about sitting down and having conversations right now," Nauert said.