U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on the U.S. -Korea relationship during a forum at the Atlantic Council in Washington, U.S. December 12, 2017.
But Mr Tillerson, speaking in Washington, said: "We're ready to have the first meeting without preconditions".
"Let's just meet and we can talk about the weather if you want".
The U.N. political chief said Tuesday that senior North Korea officials told him during a four-day visit to the country last week "that it was important to prevent war" over the country's rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
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Tillerson did not indicate that North Korea had signaled a new readiness to talk, but said that "they clearly understand that if we're going to talk, we've got to have a period of quiet" in weapons tests. The Trump administration has held a series of high-level dialogues with Beijing this year, and US and Chinese generals held rare talks in late November about how the two militaries might communicate in a crisis although USA officials said the dialogue wasn't centered on North Korea. But in a pivot from a tenant of President Donald Trump's policy towards the country, the US' top diplomat said he would be willing to come to the table without such a promise from the North Koreans.
"We are ready to have the first meeting without precondition", Tillerson said.
Mr Tillerson said when he started as America's top diplomat, he did not know anyone at the State Department or how it gets its work done. "They've voiced their view of how effective they think those may be, but we do need Russia's support".
The apparent shift in Tillerson's thinking came almost two weeks after North Korea said it had successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile in what it called a "breakthrough" that put the United States mainland within range.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called the new missile "the most powerful ICBM" and has vowed to strengthen the nation as a nuclear power.
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At least half his address was devoted to walking State Department employees through global events of the year, starting with the challenge of North Korea.
Tillerson pointed out that despite differences between the two sides, the United States is relying on Russian Federation to help solve the crisis in Syria and denuclearize North Korea.
Tillerson - whose influence has appeared to wane within the administration - said in his speech that Trump "has encouraged our diplomatic efforts". "They have too much invested in it". He said Beijing had been given assurances that if US forces had to cross into North Korea they would pull back across the border into the South. I'm confident that we're gonna be successful. "We've had conversations with the Chinese about how that might be done", Tillerson said.
"If they keep going, they can cross a point in which there is nothing left for us in the diplomatic community. where there is nothing else left for us to do", Tillerson said.
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