Executive Intelligence Review


Tillerson Tells ‘60 Minutes,’ U.S. Is Waiting To Hear That North Korea Is Willing To Talk

Feb. 19, 2018 (EIRNS)—U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared on CBS News’ Sunday prime-time broadcast “60 Minutes” last night, and took questions on U.S. relations with North Korea, China, and Russia from Margaret Brennan.

Brennan asked if the fact that the entire United States was in range of North Korean missiles made Tillerson nervous.

“It does.... It also stiffens our resolve.... The President is meeting his responsibilities as commander-in-chief by asking our military, Secretary Mattis ... to ensure we are prepared for anything.”

Brennan followed up,

“And those military options are there in case you fail?” Brennan replied, “I say to my Chinese counterpart, ‘You and I fail, these people get to fight.’ And that’s not what we want.”

Asked if he is ready to work with Kim Jong Un, Tillerson said,

“That’s who we will have to work with to achieve this diplomatically. What we have to determine now is are we even ready to start? Are they ready to start? And if they’re not, we’ll just keep the pressure campaign underway and we will increase that pressure.”

More broadly, the Secretary said

“We’ve got a common understanding with China; North Korea represents a serious threat to China as well. And we’ve been very clear with them that they are going to have an important role to play once we get to the negotiating table. ... My job as chief diplomat is to ensure that the North Koreans know we keep our channels open. I’m listening. I’m not sending a lot of messages back because there is nothing to say to them at this point. So I’m listening for you to tell me you’re ready to talk.”

How will he know they are? “They’ll tell me.... We receive messages from them, and I think it will be very explicit as to how we want to have that first conversation.”

Brennan described arguments the Secretary had won and lost with the President, but Tillerson responded,

“I think the American people have won with the decisions the President has taken. And it’s not about agreeing or disagreeing. Because he’s the decision maker.”

He pointed out some of the agreements the President has walked away from, such as climate change, were commitments the American people had never had an opportunity to weigh in on before, and they did so by electing Trump.

He concluded that he talks to Trump almost every day; what people say doesn’t bother him.

“I am committed to this President. My word is my bond. I ride for this brand; that’s why I’m here. And nothing anybody else says is going to change that.”