North Korea snubs Tillerson offer of US talks without preconditions, says no going back on nuke programme

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exits after speaking to reporters following a UN Security Council meeting concerning North Korea's nuclear ambitions, on Dec 15, 2017 in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - North Korea on Tuesday (Dec 19) rejected US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's latest proposal for dialogue without preconditions, saying it has no interest in Washington's scheme to make it give up its nuclear programme.

Mr Tillerson said last week that the US is ready to begin talks with North Korea "without preconditions" in a possible shift of US policy. But days later, after an apparent rebuke from the White House, he said that the North should halt its "threatening behaviour" before talks can begin, backpedalling on his previous remarks.

The Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said that nothing has changed in its stance of pursuing nuclear weapons, regardless of whether Washington offers talks without strings attached.

"The US is trying to shift responsibility for tensions on the Korean Peninsula to us with its dialogue offensive," the newspaper said in a commentary. "The move is seen as being intended to set the tone for manipulating new UN Security Council resolutions that may include a maritime blockade if we do not accept dialogue aimed at discussing the abandonment of our nuclear weapons."

North Korea made it clear that it will not put its nuclear weapons and missiles on the negotiation table if the US does not ditch its hostile policy toward Pyongyang.

"There is no change in our stance that we will not budge an inch in our march toward strengthening our nuclear force," it said.

Tensions have heightened after North Korea fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile in late November that could reach the US mainland, declaring that it has achieved its goal of becoming a nuclear-armed state.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.