Kono, Tillerson on same page over N Korea

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Kono, Tillerson on same page over N Korea

North Korea's United Nations ambassador, Ja Song Nam, accused the Security Council of having "double standards" and "prejudice" for singling his country out, insisting North Korea's nuclear weapons were defensive and didn't violate any worldwide law.

He noted that North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile launch last month came 75 days after its previous tests.

He repeated his openness to talks with the North Koreans, but added the caveat that Pyongyang "must earn its way back to the table". "The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Friday it was time to immediately re-establish and strengthen communication channels with North Korea, including inter-Korean and military-to-military channels, to reduce the risk of a misunderstanding escalating into conflict. His prepared remarks suggested only that North Korea would have to undertake a sustained halt in its threatening behavior before talks could begin. North Korea has acknowledged abducting 13 and allowed five of them to visit Japan in 2002.

U.S. President Donald Trump's meeting with families of abductees in November during a visit to Japan raised their hope for more public awareness and global support.

The White House quickly distanced itself from Tillerson's remarks.

Of the 15 nations in the Security Council, only a handful - not including Russian Federation or China - sent their foreign ministers to attend the event.

He said the US will not accept, as a precondition of talks, ending existing sanctions.

"While all concerned seek to avoid an accidental escalation leading to conflict, the risk is being multiplied by misplaced overconfidence, unsafe narratives and rhetoric, and the lack of communication channels", Guterres said.

Trump has at times openly scoffed at Tillerson's efforts to keep alive diplomatic prospects in dealing with North Korea. They should agree to what we propose: "'Put your drills - which, in principle, are a provocation by the U.S. against the North - on hold for the talks to start", Kim said. Earlier this year he tweeted that Tillerson was "wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man", his pejorative for Kim. He said its possession of nuclear weapons was self-defense against "U.S. nuclear threat and blackmail". Tillerson said China's refusal to stop the oil flow leads the U.S.to question its "commitment to solving an issue that has serious implications for the security of its own citizens".

The two are co-hosting an worldwide conference in the new year on the North Korea standoff. China's deputy United Nations ambassador, Wu Haitao, called for early resumption of dialogue, saying "the parties concerned should move towards each other" instead of directing blame. North Korea said the most recent test showed it was capable of hitting the entire USA, although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon Friday that the regime has not yet shown it's "a capable threat to the US mainland".

Tillerson said the North's growing capabilities were a "direct threat to our security and the security of the entire world".

Washington will use all necessary means to defend itself against North Korean aggression, he said, but it also hopes to resolve the issue through diplomacy.

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