He added that such talks would need to occur amid a "period of quiet" from North Korea, his suggestion still extended a diplomatic opening to a nation that has shown few signs of restraint. Jointly hosted by the Korea Foundation and the Atlantic Council, an American think tank, the forum was held in Washington, D.C. on December 12.
Mr Tillerson has diverged from other administration officials in the past.
Rex Tillerson, however, said: "We're ready to talk whenever they're ready to talk". "We can talk about whether it's a square table or a round table if that's what you are excited about", Tillerson said. "We are not seeing any evidence that they are ready to sit down and have those kinds of conversations".
Speaking to a Washington think tank, he added that the United States military preparedness to respond to any North Korea threat is high and the military has bene ordered to have a "full range of contingencies available". Until recently, the Trump administration has also stipulated similar conditions, declaring that there will be no talks for talk's sake.
Although Tillerson said the goal of USA policy remained denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he said it was "not realistic to say we're only going to talk if you come to the table ready to give up your program".
GETTYTillerson said on Tuesday the US was'ready to talk anytime North Korea would like
Apparently rekindling speculation that the reclusive state might be tilting toward talks with the outside world, Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N.'s undersecretary general for political affairs, made a rare trip to North Korea last week. "The president is very realistic about that as well". Tillerson suggested that, once the negotiations began, all issues are open for discussion: "Negotiations means a willingness to talk about a lot of things... And we'll tell you what we want to put on the table". "And then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map of what we might be willing to work towards". The basic principle here is that talks come first and the roadmap second. He said that there have been cases in which his push for talks were rebuffed by President Donald Trump.
But the White House later issued an ambiguous statement that left unclear whether Trump - who has said Tillerson was wasting his time pursuing dialogue with North Korea - had given his approval for the speech. The top UN human rights official Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein told a UN Security Council on Tuesday that the punitive measures had already compounded the humanitarian crisis in North Korea.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said Tillerson's proposal for direct talks with North Korea without preconditions was overdue and a welcome shift in position, but both sides needed to demonstrate restraint. "It's clear to us that [North Korea] would not just use the possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent..." This coincides with the recent surge in the frequency with which United States officials have been raising concerns about the proliferation of North Korean nuclear weapons.
"Pakistan has allowed so many terrorist organizations to find safe haven within its territories, and these organizations are growing in size and influence, that at some point I have said to the leadership of Pakistan, you may be the target, and they turn their attention from Kabul and decide they like Islamabad as a target better", said Tillerson. He also said he's conveyed to Pakistan that its policy of terror safe havens could well backfire.
After his four-day visit, the North's state-run media said that Pyongyang will communicate "through visits at different level on a regular basis in the future".
Mr Tillerson said: "In the meantime our military preparedness is strong". "I think it is unusual to hear that".