Washington remains open to “direct talks” with North Korea, a senior U.S. diplomat said Tuesday, contradicting Donald Trump’s insistence that the talking is done.
“Eventually, we don’t rule out the possibility, of course, of direct talks,” Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told reporters after a meeting at Japan’s foreign ministry in Tokyo.
The comments came hours after Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador, warned, “Nuclear war may break out any moment.”
After two days in Japan, Sullivan traveled to Seoul Tuesday for trilateral talks with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama and his South Korean counterpart, Lim Sung-nam.
While advocating for diplomacy, Sullivan said the U.S. was preparing for every eventuality.
“Our focus is on diplomacy to solve this problem that is presented by the DPRK,” Sullivan said. “We must, however, with our allies Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, be prepared for the worst should diplomacy fail.”
Sullivan’s comments echoed those of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who on Sunday said diplomatic efforts will continue “until the first bomb drops.”
Vice President Mike Pence has also advocated for talks, saying Monday the U.S. is looking for “a peaceable solution and the achievement of the long-sought goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”
The renewed push for diplomacy follows months of rising tensions inflamed by North Korean missile tests, including the regime’s sixth nuclear detonation last month.
Trump, however, continues to use inflammatory language, recently telling Tillerson via Twitter he was “wasting his time” trying to talk to Pyongyang.