U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Washington is not seeking a regime change in North Korea, but rather willing to initiate a dialogue only if Pyongyang relinquishes its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
"We do not seek regime change. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the Korean peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel (that divides North and South Korea),"CNN quoted Tillerson, as saying during a press briefing on Tuesday.
But he emphasized that the danger posed by Pyongyang, which test fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, was unacceptable as that forces Washington to respond. Tillerson, however, expressed hope that Washington and Pyongyang can resolve their issues through negotiations.
"We would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that will give them the security they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea," Tillerson said.
We are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond," Tillerson said, speaking to North Korea directly. "We would like to sit and have a dialogue about the future."
"Our other options," Tillerson added, "are not attractive."
A willingness to talk if North Korea agrees to pursue denuclearization was also Obama administration policy, though it was never successful in getting Pyongyang to the table, and some analysts have questioned whether assumptions North Korea may be willing to scale down its arsenal are out of date.
Tillerson will travel to Asia later this week to increase "peaceful pressure on the regime in North Korea to have them develop a willingness to sit and talk to us and others," but with an understanding that there's no possibility of talks if North Korea doesn't abandon its nuclear program.