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Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State, speaks during a news conference after a meeting at the State Department in Washington, D.C., U.S., on May 18, 2017.  Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Rex Tillerson Has Urged North Korea to 'Trust the U.S.,' a South Korean Diplomat Says

May 19, 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday urged North Korea to "trust the U.S." on its promise of no hostility and to refrain from conducting anymore nuclear or missile tests so as to create the right atmosphere for talks. That's according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, which cited a senior South Korean diplomat on the matter.

Tillerson's comments reportedly came during a meeting with South Korea's newly appointed special envoy to the U.S., Hong Seok-hyun—one of four senior diplomats dispatched by newly elected President Moon Jae-in this week. They mark a tonal departure from the Trump administration's months of saber rattling over North Korea.

Yonhap quoted Hong as saying: "The most impressive thing that I heard (from Tillerson) was that sanctions and pressure are not by themselves aimed at harassing North Korea, but are designed to create an opportunity for North Korea's development through opening its doors and scrapping its nuclear program."

Hong also told the news agency that Tillerson said many companies stood ready to invest in North Korea should Pyongyang make the right choices.

The special envoy's mission included a trip to the White House, where U.S. President Trump said he hoped to work closely with Moon, according to Hong. The South Korean President has promised to re-engage with North Korea and expressed his openness to visiting Pyongyang under the right conditions.

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