Speaking at the Atlantic Council Korea Foundation Forum in Washington on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington is "ready to talk" with Pyongyang at any time without preconditions. "Because of the situation, the president has ordered our military planners to have a full range of contingencies available, and they are ready". This marks a significant shift from the administration's previous rejection of dialogue for the sake of dialogue, and is a major windfall for North Korea, which remains fully committed to nuclear development. In Moscow, Kremlin spoksman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: "We can state that such constructive statements impress us far more than the confrontational rhetoric that we have heard up to now".
The UK Guardian notes that Tillerson's comments could be interpreted as a final effort to get the North Koreans talking before doom comes to Pyongyang.
Trump has promised that Kim will not be allowed to complete his effort to develop nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching mainland U.S. cities.
Russian Federation revealed on Wednesday that it had sent a military delegation to North Korea but did not disclose the objective of the visit.
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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.
Kim told workers behind the latest test that his country would "victoriously advance and leap as the strongest nuclear power and military power in the world" at a conference on Tuesday, according to state news agency KCNA. The country's nuclear force had been completed in a "death-defying struggle" and despite a high cost, he added. He stressed the United States "simply can not accept" North Korea developing nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile technology and selling it to other rogue states around the world. He said it would be "tough to talk" if Pyongyang chose to test another device in the middle of discussions and that "a period of quiet" would be needed for productive discussions.
Tillerson said on Tuesday the United States was "ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk", appearing to back away from a key U.S. demand that Pyongyang must first accept that any negotiations would have to be about giving up its nuclear arsenal. Tillerson said it's unrealistic to say the US would only engage in dialogue with Pyongyang on the condition the regime abandons its nuclear development program.
"They've too much invested in it".