Trump to US diplomat: Don't bother talking to N Korea

US president contradicts Rex Tillerson's efforts to engage Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons programme.

    US President Donald Trump dismissed the prospect of talks with North Korea as a waste of time a day after his secretary of state said the United States was maintaining open lines of communication with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

    "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man," Trump wrote on Twitter, using his sarcastic nickname for Kim and seeming to contradict the top US diplomat.

    Trump, who has traded insults and threats with Kim in recent weeks amid escalating tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes, later tweeted that his White House predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama, had all "failed" on North Korea by "being nice to rocket man".

    "So why would it work now?" he asked.

    READ MORE: North Korea vows to become a 'state nuclear force' 

    Kim succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, as North Korean leader in 2011, during Obama's administration. Previous presidents negotiated with Pyongyang but ultimately failed to prevent it from pressing ahead with its internationally condemned weapons programmes.

    Tillerson disclosed on Saturday that the US was directly communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programmes but Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.

    "Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done," Trump said.

    A senior Trump administration official, asked for clarification about Trump's tweets, played down the significance of the communication channels.

    "At a time when North Korea is continuing its provocations, the president does not think now is the time to negotiate with them," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    RC Hammond, an adviser to Tillerson, denied his boss had been undercut by Trump's tweets and rejected any suggestion the secretary of state should resign.

    "Let's resign the idea of resignation. The president just made it clear to the Kim regime the diplomatic offer on the table is cooling," Hammond said on Twitter.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.