The Wall Street Journal: Tillerson, in rare high-level acknowledgment, says U.S. in direct contact with North Korea

BEIJING—The U.S. is in direct contact with North Korea, “probing” to see if Pyongyang is willing to engage in talks despite tensions that remain overheated, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Tillerson said Saturday that the U.S. has “a couple, three” channels through which it directly engages with the North Korean government to see if substantive discussions are possible.

“We are probing. Stay tuned,” Tillerson told reporters in Beijing after meetings with China’s president and senior officials. “We ask, ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communication to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout.”

While U.S. officials previously have said the government has direct contacts with North Korea despite no formal diplomatic ties, Tillerson’s comments were a rare high-level acknowledgment. He didn’t provide details on the various channels nor the discussions themselves but said ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons remains the goal of U.S. policy.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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