Published: Fri, August 04, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

U.S. not seeking regime change in North Korea - Rex Tillerson

The State Department announced last month that Tillerson had made a decision to impose a "geographical travel restriction" on the use of US passports to visit North Korea following the death in June of American university student Otto Warmbier, who fell into a coma while in North Korean custody.

However, "a condition of those talks is there is no future where North Korea holds nuclear weapons or the ability to deliver those nuclear weapons to anyone in the region, much less the (US) homeland", he said.

In Malaysia, he will discuss bilateral relations with officials. "That's why early on we identified it as a very urgent matter, and the North Koreans have certainly proven the urgency of that to us", he said.

South East Asian diplomatic sources told AFP that Tillerson had lobbied USA allies to exclude North Korea from the ASEAN regional forum, which meets to discuss Asia-Pacific security issues alongside ASEAN talks.

The US continues to bristle at North Korea's ongoing ballistic missile and nuclear activity, particularly what analysts are calling the country's second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch last week.

"If there's going to be a war to stop [North Korea], it will be over there".

According to Agence France-Presse, unless US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revokes the ban, it is to remain in effect for one year.

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"He has told me that". What's been said before: Ambassador Nikki Haley, the U.S. representative to the United Nations, said the "time for talk is over" after the Friday missile test, though she was referring to the UN Security Council rather than direct talks involving the hermit state.

Briefing reporters on diplomatic efforts to pressure Pyongyang, Tillerson said Washington would be willing to talk to the North if its leaders accept that they must disarm.

Wednesday's notice also comes amid extreme tension between the United States and North Korea.

Analysts worry that the contradictory messaging and the United States' failure to grasp that North Korea's ability to nuke the United States is no longer just theoretical is unsafe.

Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nonproliferation issues and the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterrey, said the recent test should be a reality-check for policy makers in the United States about the seriousness of the issue. "They are putting a lot of money into it", Lewis told CNN's Kristie Lu Stout.

Under the proposal, American professional journalists, representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and American Red Cross, as well as Americans whose travel "is justified by compelling humanitarian considerations" or is "otherwise in the national interest" may apply for a special validation to use their USA passport to visit North Korea. "They are not laughing and the joke is on us".

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