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Tillerson: North Korea ‘Need Not Fear U.S.’

March 16, 2017 (EIRNS)—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in Japan for the first stage of his Asia tour, which will include Seoul on Friday and Beijing on the weekend, told the press that "North Korea and its people need not fear the United States or their neighbors in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea."

Tillerson and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concurred that the North Korean nuclear weapons program was "dangerous and unlawful," but agreed that a "a different approach is required," since "20 years of U.S. diplomacy towards North Korea had failed."

This must be understood as an opening towards Pyongyang to begin talks—which Obama refused to do until Pyongyang gave up its nuclear program without preconditions. The North Korean government has made clear, repeatedly, that as long as the United States is threatening "regime change," there could be no question of giving up the nuclear program. That is what Tillerson’s opening means.

Talks based on ending the Korean war (there was no peace agreement, only an armistice), and the U.S. acceptance of a non-aggression policy between normal nations, would provide the grounds for talks. China has proposed that a first step would be for the United States to end the massive annual military exercises (the largest ever are taking place now, with drills explicitly designed for an invasion of the North), in exchange for a freeze of the North’s nuclear and missile tests.

Associated Press reports that a North Korean diplomat in Beijing said Thursday that Pyongyang must act in self-defense against the U.S.-South Korea military drills,

"which he said have brought the region to the brink of nuclear war. He said the drills were aimed at using atomic weapons for a pre-emptive strike against North Korea."