BEDMINSTER, N.J. (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemed to open the doors to talks with North Korea this weekend, but President Donald Trump advised Sunday that such actions are a waste of time.
Trump tweeted that Tillerson “is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man” — a reference to North Korea’s leader.
Trump has used the term before, first calling Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man” while delivering remarks at the United Nations General Assembly earlier this month. In his speech to the UNGA, Mr. Trump warned the North Korean regime it risked “total destruction” if it continues its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
He also told the international body that “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime.”
The State Department has since said U.S. diplomats have “open channels” for communicating with the North Koreans, after Secretary Tillerson said during a visit to China Saturday that the U.S. is “probing” talks with North Korea. Tillerson told reporters the U.S. government and North Korean government have “direct communication” about North Korea’s nuclear program.
But the Secretary appeared to walk back those comments later in the day, saying North Korea doesn’t appear ready to talk or negotiate.
In another tweet Sunday, Mr. Trump encouraged Tillerson to “save your energy,” adding “we’ll do what has to be done!”
He added later on Sunday, “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now?” referring to President’s Clinton, Bush and Obama’s “failed” attempts at brokering peaceful negotiations with the regime’s prior dictators. He suggested, “I won’t fail.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that Tillerson “understands that every intelligence agency we have says there’s no amount of economic pressure you can put on North Korea to get them to stop this program because they view this as their survival.”
The State Department says the official U.S. policy on North Korea has not changed. It will continue to try to engage with them even though Pyongyang has shown no interest in such talks.
Contributing: EMILY TILLETT/CBS News