Secretary of State Rex Tillerson provides a status report on his meetings with Chinese leaders over the increasingly provocative behavior of North Korea. Tillerson says, “Foreign Minister Wang and I had a very extensive exchange.” His counterpart in those talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the talks as “candid, pragmatic and productive.”
Speaking from China, Tillerson said, “Foreign Minister Wang affirmed again, China’s longstanding policy of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. We also exchanged views and I think we share a common view and a sense that tensions on the Peninsula are quite high right now and that things have reached a rather dangerous level.”
“And we’ve committed ourselves,” says Tillerson, “to do everything that we can, to prevent any type of conflict from breaking out. And we view there are a number of steps that we can take that are in front of us. And Foreign Minister Wang has agreed that we will work together to see if we cannot bring the government in Pyongyang to a place where they want to make a different course, make a course correction, and move away from their development of nuclear weapons.”
Tillerson stresses, “But it is with a certain sense of urgency that we both feel because of the current situation that we have on the Peninsula. So I appreciated Foreign Minister Wang’s sincere expressions of how China sees the situation, and we had a very good exchange on that. And we will continue to be talking with one another on what we can both do, along with working with others, to bring North Korea to a different place, where we are hopeful we can then begin a dialogue.”
His comments offer a tone that progress has been made and the words that state a joint effort to persuade North Korea to discontinue their escalation of tensions indicate that China has decided to end their resistance to the idea of encouraging their client state to act in a civilized, less belligerent manner.
Wang did, however, state that he and his government still hope for a return to the policies that got us to this point, the passivity of the past, stating, “No matter what happens, we have to stay committed to diplomatic means as a way to seek peaceful settlement.” Whether that is face-saving, negotiating strategy or a legitimate belief that diplomacy must be a component of any solution will be born out over time. This is the initial stages of what will likely, at best, be a lengthy and hopefully incident-free process.
Listening to Tillerson speak and watching his mannerism and body language, this doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that is going to be forced to exit through the rear of his aircraft or not have the red carpet rolled out for him as was they case when China insulted Hussein Obama before the entire world at last year’s G-20. He’s also not going to be pitching the laughable notion that the Earth is out to get us and the climate hoax is the most significant threat to the United States, it’s not. Tillerson isn’t going to be laughed at and he will be taken seriously. That’s as it should be with the United States and its leadership.
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